Introductions

Who is Hans de Zwart and what is he doing here?

Who is Hans de Zwart and what is he doing here?

by Hans de Zwart -
Number of replies: 10
Enough of the talking in third person!

I am a 34 year old guy from Amsterdam in the Netherlands. I work as the "Innovation Manager for Global Learning Technologies" at Shell International (at the headquarters in The Hague). Before this job I was heavily involved with the Moodle project as an e-learning consultant working for the Dutch Moodle Partner (Stoas Learning). Before that I was a teacher at a high school in Amsterdam (I thought PE and project based education).

I love technology and am deeply interested in how it affects society. One of my business cards uses my favourite quote (from Yochai Benkler): "Technology creates feasibility spaces for social practice" (see here for more context). To me, this open course is an example too of a practice enabled by technological possibilities.

My blog can be found at http://blog.hansdezwart.info and you should also find links to my other social networking presences there. I try to blog regularly and what I write on this course is here.

I intend to actively participate in this course. For me this means:
  • Spending time to read and annotate all the course materials during my commute (1.5 hours each way) on my iPad.
  • Writing reflections at least once a week on my blog
  • Doing all the suggested activities and participate actively in the Moodle forums.
  • Try to attend the weekly live Elluminate sessions (if the timezone agrees with my schedule) or at least watch the recordings.
If I manage to the above, then the course will be a success for me. The topic is inherently fascinating to me and I would love to be helped with how learning and knowledge analytics could help my professional practice.

Looking forward to meeting other participants and learning together!
In reply to Hans de Zwart

Re: Who is Hans de Zwart and what is he doing here?

by Asif Devji -
Hi Hans,

Fanatastic subject line.

Inspired by your public commitment, I too will (do my best to):
  • Budget at least 3 hours per week to read course content & participate in Moodle forums
  • Write reflections once a week on my blog
  • Attend as many Elluminate sessions as possible (the best part!)
That to me would be success.

Asif



In reply to Asif Devji

Re: Who is Hans de Zwart and what is he doing here?

by Hans de Zwart -
I hadn't seen my own message as a "public commitment", because of your comment I now do. Thank you for the extra motivation!

Best of luck in this course...
In reply to Hans de Zwart

Re: Who is Hans de Zwart and what is he doing here?

by Asif Devji -
So much for public commitments -- I tried to use this as a public/personal 'learning contract' to keep me disciplined/motivated in completing the coursework -- but having just moved into a new city and a new job, I just couldn't find the time or head space to do what i said I'd do.

My idea was that the peer pressure of the group -- after I had made my public commitment -- would force me to do what I said or face shame in the eyes of the group -- but since I didn't participate enough to 'feel' the group around me, it didn't really oblige me to do what I said.

This in itself was a learning experience for me, and I hope data for the group/facilitators -- which is why I now leave my public confession on this wall. blush

Hope the course was more productive for you Hans.

Asif
In reply to Asif Devji

Re: Who is Hans de Zwart and what is he doing here?

by Cris Crissman -
I appreciate your "public confession" on two connects, Asif. First, I, too, have found that I've not been able to make the commitment to LAK11 that I'd hoped. And it's not so much a question of time but what you call "head space." After the amazing, yes, even transformative experience that I had in PLENK2010, I became a MOOC junkie and tried to participate in three at once. I'm afraid that Digital Storytelling 106 has stolen my heart and whatever head space I have to spare.

My other connect is the concept of the "feel of the group around me." I'm working on developing open courses for professional development and I think that creating the conditions for busy teachers to commit and feel the social presence of others -- to bond -- is going to be vital.

I'd love to hear your ideas sometime on how we can invite participants to succeed by becoming part of the network early in the course so they can feel the drive to continue.

Congratulations on your new job and I hope you're enjoying it!
In reply to Cris Crissman

Re: Who is Hans de Zwart and what is he doing here?

by Asif Devji -
Hi Chris,

Thanks for your comments -- wow, I really hadn't expected a response to that post (and dang! I missed the Digital Storytelling experience -- interesting as it sounded).

Some thoughts on having participants integrate more deeply into online courses:

1) Have them do a public learning contract (a la social contract) to commit to the commons how much time & head space they will invest in the experience -- course that didn't exactly work for me, but we're talking theoretically, right? smile

2) Have the first unit in the course be about personal needs assessment -- give them systematic tools/rubrics to examine their own lacks that they would like to build on -- and have them articulate this publicly, so all can see why all are here. LAK 11 did this -- this discussion forum (not to mention the great subject line of this thread) -- is exactly that -- but it did not do so systematically and as a requirement.

3) Have the participants discuss the above two things (& therefore themselves) live during webinars -- rather than having them simply sit back & listen to the experts & their expertise. Live voice & being put on the spot gets personalities (& therefore connections) across much more genuinely than in discussion-forum posts -- which generally tend to be well thought out ahead of time -- nobody wants to look like a nincompoop after all.

Looking at the fun & interesting exchanges that go on in the chatbox during webinars shows this -- imagine if the mic were actually turned over to the chatboxers for the entire session.

4) Provide systematic processes for participants to gather into interest groups and develop group projects -- rather than expect this to happen organically. In many a MOOC I wanted to (& sometimes did) propose a group project or two -- but didn't want to come across as 'who died & made you king?'

Independent-learnerish as we may be, there's still a weirdness about taking the lead in such a large & unseen group -- where you never know how you're coming across to the others.

5) Incorporate systematic public self-evaluation of progress made during the course -- this is where the shame-factor would kick in -- I'd rather actually do the work and do it well if I had to mark my progress publicly at given milestones.

Again, this could be done using assessment tools as well as in live voice during webinars. With group projects integrated, this could include live presentation of the projects to the entire membership.

Just some thoughts I've been harbouring for awhile -- and which I plan to experiment with in my private teaching via learning-tech work -- but which may be a hard-sell in an institutional context.

What about you Chris -- what do you think and what would you add to or subtract from the list?




In reply to Asif Devji

Re: Who is Hans de Zwart and what is he doing here?

by Cris Crissman -
I really appreciate your list and the underlying principles, Asif -- that people invest more in their learning in an online course when there's a social presence that evolves from a public self-assessment, goal-setting, and commitment as well as expectations that they accomplish group work that is personally meaningful. And just once, I'd love to see the "chatboxers" talking on the mic and the facilitators/presenters in the backchannel.

I had high hopes for making my university course open this semester and succeeded to some degree but not as I'd hoped. Of the 40+ teachers and librarians who responded enthusiastically to the invitation, I have only 4 who are regularly attending and contributing to the class. That's probably not as good a rate of participation as a MOOC with thousands.

I plan to poll the 40+ to find out why they didn't follow through. I suspect it was fear of unfamiliar social media tools. And something we've been talking about over in the Digital Storytelling 106 MOOC -- course culture. I worry that no one takes a course seriously anymore if there's not the ubiquitous discussion board. I think that blogging and tweeting seem much more demanding and revealing than posting to the discussion board. Could it be a fear of commitment?

It's a Catch 22 that if you worry that you'll be too busy to commit to something extra that you'll not commit enough to gain what you need from the experience to warrant the sacrifice.

Some things I plan to do differently next time:

1. Visual Overview -- Create a flow chart that clearly shows the format of the course with tutorials for social media contributions through tweeting, social bookmarking, and blogging. These are all in the course now but a visual with links could make everything easier to take in.

2. Mandatory Orientation -- Linda from Educause who spoke with us mentioned a "best practice" of mandatory orientations. Now I know that's not possible synchronously with an open course, but I wonder if open course students/auditors were simply required to watch an introductory video and respond to a questionnaire that I could then follow-through with a second video to clear up any confusions.

3. Social Presence -- My class meets in Second Life but I stream it into UStream for those not interested in learning to use Second Life. It's amazing how close the students in Second Life have become. I'm convinced there's an intimacy that comes from putting oneself "out there" in a new, foreign space and learning with others to feel at home. How to create the conditions for that to happen for potential open students? I'm still working on that one. Perhaps beginning the class with a big event that draws open students to our Second Life space. Now our big event comes about a month into the class.

4. Professional Development Credit -- Only a couple of my open students successfully negotiated with supervisors to earn certificate renewal credit for the course. I explained my requirements to earn a course certificate of completion and encouraged those interested to seek prior approval before they began the course. Perhaps there's a disconnect and school systems are reluctant to accept open course work for renewal credit. This is something I hope to learn from the follow-up survey.

Whew! That was helpful for me to think through, Asif, so I appreciate the prompting. Please do keep in touch and let me know how your strategies work out and I'll do the same.

Take care and until our next MOOC . . .
Cris




In reply to Hans de Zwart

Re: Who is Hans de Zwart and what is he doing here?

by Myles Carrick -

Hey Hans! Good to see you're in here. I came via a tweet by @clairebrooks and was glad to see a familiar face.

Myles

In reply to Hans de Zwart

Re: Who is Hans de Zwart and what is he doing here?

by Bert De Coutere -
Hi Hans,
I followed your example and enrolled. Mainly interested in the corporate side of the story, not the academic one per se.
Anyway, I was just wondering how your learning and development would ever be affected if you did not have 3 hours of commute time a day ... :)
In reply to Bert De Coutere

Re: Who is Hans de Zwart and what is he doing here?

by Hans de Zwart -
I really wouldn't know. Ever since I was eleven I have never lived closer to school or work than one hour of public transportation (one-way). There have been two years where I have a lease car and drove to work (and to clients). I never managed to attain my reading KPIs during those years.

In recent years it has been much better: I have made a deal with myself that I will only read books in the train and nothing else (no RSS feeds or magazines). For this course I am making an exception to the rule!