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Going Techno-Bonkers: 18+ (6-6-6) Ways Slightly Crazy People Keep Up With Online Learning and Technology Trends
Saturday, October 09, 2010
Going Techno-Bonkers. What’s going on? I am going “coo coo clock” trying to keep up with the daily press related to learning technologies. September was just a blur with specials on educational technology and e-learning in Education Week (on e-learning in K-12 schools), eCampus News (on digital books), the Chronicle of Higher Education (special reports on e-learning in Asia), and the New York Times. And then there were various STEM grants and projects announced from the federal government and others (see video in eSchool News and summary of STEM initiative). I am literally going more Bonkers than my name in seemingly futile attempts to record it all. Apparently, everyone around me is feeling it too.

On the one hand, it is comforting not being the only one. On the other hand, it is a sign that there is much happening today in Web-based learning that few people are aware of, let alone taking advantage of. We are fast becoming a race of people that is highly ignorant of the educational possibilities on or around the Web that can transform each and every one of us. I believe that Web-based learning technology can nudge, push, pull out, elevate, or rouse to life new learning skills and competencies and ultimately human development or growth levels which can position one for enhanced educational and workplace situations. I also believe that we have yet to discover the outer edges of human potential. The coming decades will include many inroads by human development researchers. But not unless we can make sense of all that is happening and make plans for the possible.

Sure I have some lofty goals and ideals. Most around me are content with technology subsistence goals. They just want to know what is currently happening…what is emerging….and what is new. During the past two weeks, I have become alarmed by the number of people asking me how I keep on top of all the technology trends. Am I the only one? Certainly not—George Siemens, Stephen Downes, Elliot Masie, Jay Cross (and his Internet Time Blog), Will Richardson, and countless others do an excellent job of gathering and distilling all the educational technology news you ever wanted to read about. Are they freaks of nature or should we expect all humans do likewise. I mean, if educational opportunities exist today that did not a decade ago, certainly we should want to find ways to track them and take advantage of them. Perhaps I am wrong. But perhaps too many people are mired in a reality of yesteryear.

The Question. I was speaking at Houston Community College on Friday October 1st for an E-Learning Colloquium Conference. Well, this was the exact topic that I asked about by several people after my morning and afternoon sessions ended. “Dr. Bonk, how do you keep up with it all?” asked one gentleman. And then another younger guy 2 rows from the front had the same general question. And yet another. And another. “Houston, we have a problem,” I thought to myself. But this is not simply a male question or a community college one or restricted to the friendly people of Houston, Texas.

Truth be told, females and those outside community college settings also want to know what is happening. Everyone has questions as they are being asked to do something different from before (e.g., teach blended or fully online courses). My highly inquisitive and always learning friend, Dr. Youmei Liu from the University of Houston, was an invited guest in the audience at the Houston Community College event and asked me a similar question after the day ended as we were exiting the building. I turned to her and smiled and said to her, "Youmei, you might want to read my TravelinEdMan blog in a week or so." And I have another sharp-minded colleague at the University of Houston who asked me this very question the week before my visit after I sent her some information on new STEM grant initiatives. When responding to her email, I had the initial inkling for a blog post like this one. So I must thank my highly valued friends at the University of Houston as well as the many fabulous people I met at Houston Community College who indirectly (i.e., without their knowledge) pushed me to make this blog post. A huge thank you to each one of if you were one of those people.

Seems everyone wants to keep up but has difficulty doing so. Time is a factor as is general knowledge of what online newsletters, newspapers, magazines, reports, blog posts, and journals to subscribe to. I guess that is why people read edited books and blog posts like this one, attend conferences, Webinars, summits, and institutes, and listen to podcasts or books in their cars--such events and resources enable one to catch up quickly.

Of course, this question I was asked of how I keep up is not restricted to the people of Houston or even of Texas at large (large as it is). I think many people want better ways to track and make sense of technology changes. In fact, the following morning at 8 am I was presenting via Webcam from the ZaZa hotel in Houston to people from Rondout Valley Central School District in Accord, New York and SUNY Ulster Community College people (they have a partnership). They also expressed concerns about keeping up. Four days later (i.e., this week Wedneesday), administrators attending the Compass Knowledge Summit on E-Learning Innovation asked me the same question after each of talk I gave, including my "Flat World Swung Open" keynote (based on my World is Open book) and various breakout talks. The day before (Tuesday October 5th), I had similar questions from doctoral students and faculty at Florida State University during a brief 4-5 hour visit to Tallahassee. Of course, I will likely get this question during the coming week when I visit St. John’s, Newfoundland for the Edge conference 2010 (e-Learning: The Horizon and Beyond) and the following week when back in Orlando for the E-Learn 2010 conference.

As I said, some people are swimming in shallow waters when it comes to online learning and others are going in much deeper. Just where are you? I realize that times are tough, not just economically but educationally...I mean, how does one attempt to keep up with each wave of announcements and reports designated as important to read? At the same time, this begs the question...Do we expect an educated citizenry to keep up with the plethora of educational opportunities in front of them? I do! Definitely, we must. So what do I do to keep up? In the paragraphs below I share some of my routine (if you can call it that) and after that I provide a series of links to K-12, higher education, and corporate resources.

My routine. Back up a second...During the early part of this decade, I used to wait for a weekly email from Judy Brown at the Academic Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Colab which was in partnership with the Department of Defense. At the time, my good friend, Dr. Robert (Bob) Wisher, headed up all the ADL initiatives in DC. Judy was housed in Madison, Wisconsin which is where I went to graduate school. I used to hate getting these emails and love them since I knew it would take an hour or 2 to digest the content links coming from each one. At the same time, they were rich with fascinating stories and important updates. Unfortunately, Judy retired. So now I must find my sources through other means. See below for some of it anyway.

Each morning I skim through the Wired Chronicle of Higher Education (5-10 minutes—it is a daily email with links), Inside Higher Education (1-2 minutes—another email with links), and the USA Today (10-15 minutes). Each afternoon, eSchool News comes out via email link and sometimes eCampus News (also email links). The others are intermittent. No set times. I often learn something from Elliott Masie and his Learning Trends e-newsletter which comes out 1-2 times a week. I sometimes skim through Wired Magazine, Fast Company, the New York Times, the Washington Post, etc. People like John Naisbitt (of Megatrends, Mind Set!, and Re-inventing the Corporation fame) scan through many more sources than I do. People like Naisbitt and Alvin Toffler are amazing in the amount of information that they can synthesize and the relevance of their results.

Eighteen Places to Look (yes 18, and I like it!). Listed below are 18 possible sources, about 15 of which I subscribe to. They include articles, magazines, and newsletters, K-12, higher education, and corporate training arenas. So as not to ignore anyone, I have listed 6 for K-12, 6 for higher education, and 6 for corporate training. Ok, that is “6-6-6”—hopefully this is a good Omen; well in a few hours, it will be 10-10-10. Perhaps I need to list 4 more of each below before the clock strikes midnight.

K-12 Resources (some news from these also relates to higher education):
1. eSchool News; Free subscription.

2. Edutopia; free weekly newsletter.

3. Education Week (Note: I do not use this one often; except for the annual online learning report); Free stuff.

4. login from Cisco; Get Ideas education; to register for a free account.

5. THE Journal; Subscribe to print format; subscribe to digital format.

6. (both K-12 and higher education news; claims to be #1).

Note: I have been interviewed several times by Michael Shaughnessy, for articles posted to this site. For example, this one on educational technology leadership, July 6, 2009. And also this article on e-learning in Asia (with my colleagues, Tom Reynolds and Mimi Lee), January 27, 2010, EducationNews. These are more higher education related articles than K-12.

Higher Education Resources (some news from these also relates to K-12 education):
7. Campus Technology; Subscribe to magazine for free; Other newsletter subscriptions.

8. Chronicle of Higher Education (Note: some articles are free and some are for subscribers only); Chronicle of Higher Education Wired Campus; Subscribe to Wired Campus (I think this is free to subscribe to but not sure since I am a paying member of the Chronicle of HE). Note that sometimes the afternoon email from the Chronicle is as interesting as the morning version.

9. eCampus News; Free subscription.

10. Faculty Focus from my friends at Magna Publications; Several free reports; Faculty Focus free e-newletter; Magna, which is headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin (home of my alma mater--UW-Madison), also has tons of conference, Webinars, and other types of online professional development experiences (I know since I have done a few for them in the past...great people, great learning).

Note: For K-12 people, Magna Publications also has Inside the School and many free K-12 related reports.

11. Inside Higher Education (online and free); Daily email updates are free.

12. University Business Magazine; to subscribe. Note that you can subscribe to the digital or print edition or both. This is one that I only occastional read online but I subscribed to while writing this blog post.

Corporate Training Resources (much from these sources also relates to higher education):
13. eLearning Guild; Subscribe (Note: membership options from free to $$$; They offer various publications including free e-newsletter is called the eLearning Insider. They also offer some free Webinars, reports, and a job board.

14. Chief Learning Officer magazine; free subscription.

15. Learning TRENDS online newsletter from Elliott Masie and the Masie Center: Free to subscribe (Note: it is highly popular; in fact, there are more than 55,000 readers at the present time. Personally, I learn a few highly valuable things from it each month or so.). The Masie center also has many free research reports (such as this one from CLO in 2010), videos, podcasts (including a recent one with Daniel Pink, author of "Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us"), and an annual conference called "Learning" which is held in Orlando in October. Learning 2010 is coming up.

16. Training Magazine (homepage and newsletters are free but not the magazine); Training Magazine Events; and free e-newsletters (includes Training Tech Talk, formerly Online Learning News & Reviews:

17. The International Society of Performance Improvement; and Performance Xpress Newsletter (which is free).

18. HR Magazine from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) which is not free; various free e-newsletters.

Final Thoughts. There are also organizational and non-profit publications, conferences, and e-newsletters in this space like those found at ASTD, AACE, Sloan Consortium (Sloan-C) Publications and Conferences (I love their annual survey reports), EDUCAUSE (e.g., their annual Horizons Report predicting future technology directions in education; e.g., Horizons 2010), Flat World Knowledge, Classroom 2.0 from Steve Hargadon (many interesting Webinars and guest interviews posted here), Mission to Learn, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, and Academic Impressions (subscribe to free newsletter). And there are open access journals and magazines that I often peruse like eLearn Magazine, EDUCAUSE Quarterly and EDUCAUSE Review, the Journal of Interactive Online Learning, the International Review of Research on Open and Distance Learning (IRRODL), and International Journal of Instructional Technology & Distance Learning. Those wanting more journal types of articles on educational technology and media should look at my mega-list of journals and magazines in this field at my site. Swimming yet?

Not had enough? Perhaps you are moving north to what do you read? How about University Affairs from Canada (; they interviewed me earlier in the year about e-books. Not overwhelmed yet? Ok, there is also MindShare Learning Report from Canada which is more K-12. I did a Skype interview with Mitch Townsend from MindShare this morning, in fact, for their November 2010 e-publication. Of course, if you are in the UK, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Finland, Brazil, Korea, China, etc., you would have other sources. I will stay with North America sources for the purposes of this one blog post. Too much to document already.

So are you going Bonkers too? Why not? Too much. Too much. Too much! Perhaps the above list will help. I hope so. Perhaps some will focus on K-12 sources and others corporate or higher education ones. Of course, there are also non-profit, government, and military resources.

Want to keep up with learning technology changes? I have tried to get much of this into my fall 2010 doctoral seminar syllabus on the open learning world and the Web 2.0. You might explore this syllabus...but caution, it is 43 pages long. Everything is a hot link to open access articles and online resources (i.e., it is like one-stop shopping for those interested in the online world). Note that I am teaching this course live this fall but plan to teach it online in the spring of 2011. Suggestions always welcome.

As is clear, there is much choice for you now. As the Grail Knight said in the 1989 movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, “choose wisely.” If you do, WE-ALL-LEARN. The world is now open to you!
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  posted by Curt Bonk @ 3:18 PM   2 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.

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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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