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Review of Don Tapscott's, new book "Grown Up Digital."
Saturday, December 27, 2008
A year or two I bought Don Tapscott's book and associated audiobook, "Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything." I loved it! People I lent the audiobook to loved it as well. It brought back memories of my "Electronic Collaborators" book from 1998. The year before that in 1997, Don wrote, "Growing Up Digital" which drew wide acclaim. Now more than a decade later, he has come out with a superb follow-up, "Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing the World" published by McGraw-Hill (2009).

This is a stellar book. It encompasses many areas--education and learning, business/management, politics, parenting, technology, community and global volunteerism, and simply growing up with all the new and exciting information and technology that surrounds us. It is simultaneously a snapshot of today and an insightful look at where we are going as individuals, families, companies, communities, and a species.

If you want to relate to your children better, get a copy of this book. If you want to understand your workplace or learning environment better, read this book. If you want to hold out hope for our planet, flip through at least the final chapters of this book.

If you did not have the time or energy to read a single newspaper, magazine, or journal article related to technology and change this year and want to catch up, then get this book and read it when you have time (hopefully very soon). Don Tapcott has done the reading for you and will make sense of the current trends; especially as they relate to the Net Generation. With two kids of my own in the Net Gen (with coincidentally the same names as Don's kids), I definitely can relate to each chapter. Volunteerism, especially among my daughter and her friends (Chapter 10) is exactly as he states it. Politics and the Obama factor this year (Chapter 9)--presto, my son, Alex, a college junior, was all over that. Living near home longer (Chapter 8) kids returned from college last week (including Alex who was studying abroad in Seville, Spain this fall and has no plans to relocate from here anytime soon). Yes, Don Tapscott is right, a more democratic family decision making style will build strong ties. N-Fluence networks and purchasing behaviors (Chapter 7) daughter, Nicki, and her boyfriend, Corbin, scoped out a new MacBook online and gathered all the details they wanted a few days back, including much information from their friends in Facebook, and then went into Best Buy and she helped him purchase it.

Rethinking talent and the management of young people in firms (Chapter 6) son and I have chatted about this issue this many times. He wants the flexible times and challenging and engaging work which Don discusses in many sections of his book. Anyone in a management position in business today should be reading at the very least Chapters 1, 2, 3, 6, and 7.

Rethinking education (Chapter 5)--well, as a university professor in educational psychology and instructional technology (distance learning) this is what I teach and write about so it struck a chord. I have written a book, in fact, that extends Thomas Friedman's World is Flat book to education (in press for June, 2009). Hence, I not only agree with his perspective in Chapter 5, I can relate to the reading and synthesizing Don had to engage in to write such a book. It is not easy to do such a book and stay sane. It is clear that he has a great research and support team at nGenera who help him tremendously and for which he should be proud to have built.

I already have recommended Don's book to my family, friends, graduate students, and work colleagues. In fact, I bought a few copies for close friends who ran the E-Learn conference with me in Las Vegas last month. They were surprised and most appreciative. I think Don was even surprised when I told him since he may not have realized that his book was even out at the time.

There is so much good stuff packed in every chapter of Grown Up Digital, it was difficult for me to read it front to back. I read this book as follows: Intro, then back matter, Chapter 1, then back matter again, Chapter 2, Notes and Biblio again, Chapter 11, Chapter 10, Chapter 9, Chapter 8, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5 on rethinking education (of course of most interest to me), Chapter 7, and finally Chapter 6. I saved two of the longest chapters for last (which I likely starred almost as much content, if not more, than my favorite one, Chapter 5).

I have 100’s of starred points. Pages that stick out include pp. 34-37 (the 8 Net Generation Norms), 58-64 (stuff on how this generation lives with technology), 104-105 (how life on the Internet may be impacting your brain), 140-142 (learning must become more personalized!), 154-162 (the current talent shortage and what the Net Generation wants), 165-167 (work should be fun not just menial tasks), 173-178 (do more than recruit--build relationships, engage, and foster collaboration when at work), 208-213 (enlist consumer (and employee) support and passion when building products--prosumers), 258-264 (participatory and interactive government and marketspace), 279-287 (good people helping the world; activism), etc. I tried not to mark the book too much but as I progressed into it I could not help myself. It is that good. Sorta reminds me of my reading of his Wikinomics book last year, though that book I listened to first and then read parts that I wanted to revisit. I cannot wait for Grown Up Digital to come out in audio so I can buy a copy and then listen to it (the reverse of what I did with Wikinomics).

This book is packed with content and, yet, as Don notes in the introduction, he had to delete a ton of stuff. Nevertheless, I see many familiar names who also appear in my upcoming "The World is Open" book—Chris Dede, J. S. Brown, Michael Wesch, Marc Prensky, Barry Joseph, Nicholas Carr, Henry Jenkins, Seymour Papert, and Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis (both of whom also appear in Thomas Friedman’s World is Flat book). I also appreciated his comments about Just-In-Time-Teaching, Butler University (where I have a daughter enrolled as a freshman), the Big Learning Picture Company (co-founded by my friend, Dr. Dennis Littky), and the new sharing generation (perhaps see my article, Sharing...the Journey). You will have to read it and find out why.

And I starred and underlined his comments about motivation of today’s youth on p. 160 and many other places—the need for meaningful learning, challenge, variety, choice, flexibility, etc. Given high school drop-out rates, not just in Detroit and Indianapolis (as pointed out by Time and Oprah), motivating young adults is perhaps the most important thing in education today. Don's book should start the conversation going here! Let's hope. Enjoy the book!
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  posted by Curt Bonk @ 5:15 PM   6 comments
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10 Tests Phases or Requirements for Online Instructors: Do U Qualify?
Friday, December 19, 2008
Last night, my friend, Dr. Lori Teng in Taiwan sent an email with a series of questions to Professor Ron Owston at York University in Toronto as well as myself. Ron had just been in Taiwan and perhaps had some useful insights for her. Lori wanted to know if there was a mandated governing board or accreditation body in the USA or Canada for e-learning. She also wanted to know if it perhaps differed by state, province, or region. In addition, Lori asked if there were any regulations related to required instructor time for teaching online or typical preparation commitment. These were great questions so I decided to post them as well as my naive response. I just hope Lori will not mind.

I thought about her questions for a minute or 2 and then responded and told her that here in the USA we rely on things like NCATE accreditation. But that is all that I know about. No other regulations. But what do I know?

Then I remembered that there were other rules and regulations in place. And I found a list of what she was looking for. Seems there are 10 requirements or test phases related to e-learning accredidation; at least here in the USA. See below.

1. Phase 1 test. Instructors must put in 100 hours per week and 1,500 hours during an online course. There is a very simple qualifying test here—-potential online instructors are placed in a testing room and asked to try to stay awake for 3 straight days. Toothpicks, Super Glue, coffee, Jolt, Mountain Dew, Fixx, and Red Bull are all freely provided. Those who can stay awake are allowed to venture to Phase 2 of the testing. Those who simultaneously use all the supplied items found in the room can skip Phase 2 and move right to Phase 3.

2. Phase 2 test. Instructors must be able to supply feedback on every student post; those who can type over 120 words a minute pass this requirement as do those who use a more "hunt and peck" typing system but do not need sleep or any professional or personal relationships. Those passing this test can proceed to Phase 3.

3. Phase 3 test. Instructors must take a personality test. If they score high enough on the patience subscale to put up with silly administrator tests like this one as well as the upcoming lack of support from such administrators, then they pass this phase and quickly move on to Phase 4.

4. Phase 4 test. In Phase 4, hopeful online instructors are asked to send 150 sample student emails in a 2 hour sit down test and are required to respond to all of them with tact, flexibility, and detailed explanations that have no hint of confusion. Those with the stamina to complete Phase 4 testing move on to Phase 5.

5. Phase 5 test. Potential instructors are given a class roster of 300-400 names for one online course section and asked if they are willing to take additional students or not. Those who do not flinch are given a second course roster with more than 5,000 names. Still no complaints? Ok you can move on to Phase 6.

6. Phase 6 test. Potential online instructors are sent a list of 20 typical online student excuses for late or uncompleted work (e.g., global warming protest rallies got in the way; I was using the wrong type of computer; my RAM was in a jam; password does not work; forgot I signed up for this course; had to go to grandmother’s for apple pie; etc.) and asked how they would deal with it. If successful, it is on to Phase 7.

7. Phase 7 test. Potential instructors must sign up and take an online course (or part of such a course) and display sufficient skill in being obnoxious, condescending, and angry while simultaneously showing their naiveté whenever possible to frustrate the instructor. Only the really obnoxious and seemingly naive are allowed to proceed to Phase 8.

8. Phase 8 test. Potential instructors are given the mobile phone numbers, Skype names, Facebook accounts, Ning affiliations, Skype addresses, and MSN handles of 100 expert online instructors and are asked to contact all of them within a 24 hour span seeking solutions to special problems that they might encounter when teaching online (all problems are provided by the test administrator). In order to pass this phase, they must receive answers for all of them using each form of technology. Anyone left remotely sane after Phase 8 is immediately sent to Phase 9.

9. Phase 9 test. At this point, an NCATE accreditation agent must interview all remaining online instructor hopefuls for an extremely grueling 5 hour time period about their supposed online skills and experiences. While it is quite doubtful anyone is left at this point, those still remaining and wanting to be an online instructor can push on to Phase 10.

10. Phase 10 test. Online instructors cannot be named “Ron” or “Lori” for some reason. And that may be good news for all the “Ron’s” and “Lori’s” of the world as well as their families.

Ok, that is the 10 steps or test phases that I was told about. If you have heard of additional ones, please let me know.
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  posted by Curt Bonk @ 9:24 PM   3 comments
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Free Webinar: Matching Online Assessments to Online Pedagogies: Choices, Challenges, and Concerns
Friday, December 05, 2008
As I may have mentioned…

Wiley Publishing has me doing a free Webinar on Monday on matching online assessment to online pedagogy. Information is attached and below. Already 145 people signed up; I heard that normally they have about 25-30 people, so this topic must be popular. I think assessment is boring (but I am a former accountant so I do not like assessment much). Anyway, I will get extremely excited about assessment for a day and present for 45 minutes followed by 15 minutes of questioning. Of course, the pedagogical parts of my talk WILL be quite captivating stuff!

You will not see me, just hear me and see my slides. You need nothing installed on your machine but Flash (this is on most computers now). A picture of the interface is below. Anyone can sign up and attend for free if you are a high school, community college, or university instructor.

Just look for my session on Monday, December 8th, 2008 at 2 pm EST (New York Time):

Main Page: (click on education)

Education related: (click on my session)

My Talk: (use this one!)

Matching Online Assessments to Online Pedagogies: Choices, Challenges, and Concerns

Presenter: Curt Bonk, Indiana University

Online teaching can be quite hectic and, at times, extremely frustrating. The frustration mounts when the time required for student grading and feedback seems never ending. Adding to the pressures, those new to online teaching must deal with many challenges not encountered in face-to-face settings. Assessment seems the last thing on one’s mind when scrambling to design and then deliver a new online course. Part of the dilemma is determining how to fairly and expediently assess student learning when attempting innovative and risky pedagogical techniques. This presentation will offer dozens of pedagogical techniques and discuss online assessment options that one might select for each of them. A series of tips and guidelines will be offered for saving time in online assessment while providing valued task feedback and interactive and engaging courses overall.

Monday, 08 December 2008 at 2:00 pm Eastern Time - Duration 1 hour

They are using Adobe Connect Pro (formerly Breeze) for this (sample interface below). You will get a link to go to on Monday after signing up and a couple of reminders. The interface is below. Now I just have to prep it. I have no clue what I am going to do. Smile.

Perhaps I will see some of you online on Monday (Tuesday if you are in Asia). If I seem pretty bad, please pipe in and help. Smile! Just kidding. If I am bad, click exit and send me a nasty email. Double smile!
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  posted by Curt Bonk @ 4:34 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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