This is the blog of Dr. Curt Bonk, Professor at Indiana University and President of CourseShare (there are NO Guest Blogs and NO advertisements permitted).

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E-Learning Predictions for 2006
Friday, December 30, 2005
Lisa Neal from E-Learn Magazine asked for my e-learning predictions for the coming year and then posts them to the online magazine site. She gets people like Elliott Masie, Carol Twigg, Margaret Driscoll, Metty Collis, Jennifer Hoffman, Stephen Downes, Clark Aldrich, Josh Bersin, Allison Rossett, Jonathan Levy, Saul Carliner, Mark Oehlert, Cathie Norris, Kinshuk, etc. to post their views. She even posts her own views. You will notice that many of these people are from the corporate training sector though a view are from higher education. Of course, Stephen Downes will always be interesting to read.

Well, Lisa has asked for my opinions again. I listed mine below.

"As instructors and trainers continue to become aware of the power and ease of creation of things such as wikibooks, blogs, Webcasts, and podcasts, 2006 will spur an explosion of media-rich and creative instructional approaches. Audio and video will become more expected in e-learning. For instance, instructors will increasingly add audio books to student reading (i.e., listening) lists. At the same time, knowledge repositories and mobile e-learning will lead to a rise in personally selected learning experiences and even self-labeled degrees. Entire certificate and degree programs will be available from content in handheld devices such as an iPod or MP3 player. This will lead a boom in professional development and training opportunities."

I am curious what you all think about e-learning and blended learning in 2005. It will undoubtedly be another interesting year! I will make one more prediction--with my sabbatical from May 1, 2006 to September 1, 2007, I will visit some great new places and enjoy the year.
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  posted by Curt Bonk @ 8:29 AM   1 comments
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The So Sad and Silly State of the CMS
Sunday, December 18, 2005
What do you think of the course management systems (CMSs) that are out there today? Have we seen much improvement in the past decade in terms of teaching and learning functionality? If so where?

Someone recently noted to me that CMS developers (e.g., Sakai, Blackboard, and other ones as well) were not thinking how the tool will be used “in the classroom to support TEACHING;” particularly when group learning and virtual teaming is involved. What do you think? Personally, I loved this person’s capitalization of the word "teaching" and I will add "LEARNING" to it.

In fact, when I do talks around the planet on this stuff I point out that the only thing that course management systems have done in terms of helping with teaching and learning during the past decade (in terms of what is new and did not exist prior to the development of a CMS or the emergence of the Web as a teaching and learning platform) is design spaces for collaboration and group workspaces and even those existed prior to the Web. Now that may sound harsh, but the truth of the matter is that discussion and chats existed before the emergence of the Web so such tools are nothing new and to be honest a review of collaboration tools I did for the web back in 1990 and 1991 uncovered dozens of collab tools at various levels of interaction and that was years prior to the emergence of CMSs. In defense of CMS developers, more tools are expected of one system now (e.g., online gradebooks, chats, profiles, discussion, etc.) and it simply takes a while to code. It is sorta unfair to expect them to be developed quickly in one tool.

Here in the School of Education at IU, our 100+ faculty members were extremely happy with a tool called SiteScape Forum (SSF) and that was taken away from us this year in the move to Sakai (but we are willing to cope and push ahead despite the superior functionality of SSF from a teaching and learning standpoint). CMSs like Oncourse, Angel, Desire2Learn, Sakai, WebCT, and Blackboard all lack teaching and learning tools--they are administrative tools (tools to see how many people are logged in and when), they are management of student tools (ala behaviorism--they "manage" things--they should instead be freeing students up to learn), and they are tools designed by technology people for the most part, but they are not, in their present state teaching and learning tools. None of them. And the recent merger of WebCT and Blackboard will not improve anything when you have 2 primitive tools, from a teaching and learning standpoint, merging.

I knew that it is still somewhat in beta state, but I am using Sakai this semester in a fully online class and I have had to give up a number of innovative teaching things I did a year ago in the exact same course using SSF. I have had to totally revamp a blogging activity to use Blogger and LiveJournal instead of Sakai since scrolling through 50 posts per blog and having 20 blogs in Sakai (i.e., 20 students are in the class) would have been 1,000 posts to weed through each time--ug! The online forum is simply harder to use and much much slower than SSF and much slower than the old Oncourse (Note: Oncourse is the name of the IU tool) and I never liked the old Oncourse much either. The new Oncourse/Sakai takes forever to see who posted and join in conversations and my eyes go buggy with the online discussion forums. But I still support the movement to Sakai and I decided to use what works for now. In the long run it is the right solution. We often take 2 steps back in order to take a step forward and this is likely the case. IU needs to be a leader right now in this space and model use of Sakai and so we are.

That being said, the rare improvement in learning that I have seen in most CMSs is in group workspaces and collaboration. While we are at it, we also need tools for brainstorming, timelining, comparison and contrast, concept mapping (ala Tufts Visual Understanding Environment), role play, debate, Venn diagramming, etc.

Just my 3 cents.
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  posted by Curt Bonk @ 9:25 PM   5 comments
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Why Blog After All???
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Sarah Haavind from Harvard and Sylvia Curry from Simon Fraser University have me reflecting in SCoPE (see on why to blog. Sarah put forth a challenge to share with her ways blogs can be used instructionally. Here is my response:

"Thanks for citing me Sarah. I am still learning all the ins and outs of blogs and blogging myself. yes, there is a pressing need for threaded discussions in Blogger and easier ways to post web resources and and and (we need many tools). Among the differences from an online forum are the following:

1. It is a personal space and a personally shared space. When you use a blog, it is your tool and your space to reflect on things and draw people in. A discussion forum is everyone's space.

2. Related to #1, it is a way of building identity; I am TravelinEdMan and no one else. You can send others to your personal URL or space. You typically cannot do that in a discussion.

3. It is semi-permanent. When a class ends, an online discussion often ends, but not a blog.

4. You can invite others to it--anyone including parents and grandparents. Discussion forums are usually restricted to a community of class.

5. You can keep building on them after a class has ended and look back at your personal growth. In a discussion forum. you often cannot do that.

Ok, there are some differences perhaps if you are talking about a discussion forum that is limited to a particular community or class. I am sure that there are at least 5 more to get us to 10 things."

What do you think?
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  posted by Curt Bonk @ 10:13 AM   1 comments
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Blog for Identity
Here is a response to Sylvia Curry at SCoPE (; where we are discusing the benefits of blogs and she points out the identity she sees in blogs but not in personal profiles of online communities...

Here is how I replied: "I think when Robin Williams reads a quote in Dead Poets Society about truth and identity and that someday we will all be dead and pushing up daffidills (sp), that he is spot on. A homepage is a static document for most of us and so is a profile provided in an online community. What makes sharing online pictures and blogs and now video blogs so engaging is that they become the externalization of one's identity. These are all pieces of identity, but the blog perhaps comes closest to it. In part, since it is fresh and new and alive with thoughts one only had a few moments ago or perhaps years earlier. It is the permanency of text but the changeability of ideas that makes a blog exciting. It is an evolving biography of who we are and what we do. It is something that can get others to reflect on who we are and also to personally reflect on who we are.

Identity. We all need it or we would be checking out on life. It is what life is. Now a blog can also help stretch your community beyond one letter to a friend to an entire community of millions (or billions) of potential readers. At the same time, it maintains some of the passion and emotion of a letter and is not distilled down or emptied of one's true self for a publisher to feel safe about. You really get a sense of a person or a story that he or she is sharing. It is about story telling and having those stories remain available for others.

Of course, more tools are needed such as tools to connect our blog stories and look for themes and patterns but they are coming. And many are already here. Hopefully, we will use them to share and intertwine our identities before we push up daffidills."
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  posted by Curt Bonk @ 10:05 AM   0 comments
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Edmonton, Canada Visit to NAIT (Northern Alberta Institute of Technology)
Monday, December 05, 2005
I found my visit to Edmonton quite enjoyable. I found the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) planning for changes in fully online and blended learning. They seem to be in a growth spurt and plannning for new 4 year degree programs to go with their 2 year ones. They, of course, face many issues and obstacles such as new faculty who might get tenure and different types of students and expectations.

Fortunately, both my blended learning talk and perfect e-storm talks went well. And I had time to chat with people from their Technology and Curriculum Innovations center. They seem to be struggling with a mandate for experiential learning embedded in their online courses and some faculty do not see experiential forms of instruction fitting with their content. We discussed how a learning centered approach might be the umbrella for many instructional design approaches including an experiential one which they could pick and choose from.

I also met with McGraw-Hill Ryerson people like Joe Saundercock, VP of Partnerships and Business Development, Lara Patrick in i-learning Sales, and Jo-Ann DeLuca, Director of Marketing in Higher Education. It was great that Mc-Graw-Hill could help sponsor my talks here. I may speak to their sales reps in San Fran in early January and attend a meeting in Toronto with them on February 2nd when I am up there for the Ontario Library Association meeting.

All in all, 2 trips to Alberta in a little over a week turned out great. I had much fun and the talks went well. I can thank Bill Fricker from NAIT for his wonderful support (and driving me where I wanted to go) and BJ Eib from the University of Calgary for her help the week b4. The University of Calgary (learning commons) people have asked to sync my talks up in Breeze with the audio and the slides and let people replay them so they can have more intense discussions about blended learning and that is cool.
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  posted by Curt Bonk @ 10:53 PM   3 comments
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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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