Tuesday, June 15, 2010


I was reading a blog by Stephen Downes this morning that includes a perspective that I feel has great bearing on what we are trying to do with our QEP design. Downes is an early proponent of Connectivism, with George Siemens.

In his article "The Future of Online Learning, Ten Years Out" (2008), Downes says that two of the most transformative factors for our students will be the two terms in my title: flow and syndication. "Syndication" we all know from our exploration through Google Reader and its use of RSS feed, which Downes identifies as Rich Site Summary--the aggregate tool that collects site changes at our whim and loads us with probably more sources to look at than we can handle.

His term "flow" signifies a type of information gathering and learning that is purely 21st century and that is unique to our use of the RSS feed, our cable channels, our social networking, our iphones and ipads, and however else we input data . That is, we have "suddenly" all adjusted to picking and choosing what we want to learn about, and what we want to learn more about, by working an information flow or stream, or multiple streams.

As we've said in QEP, students are already there, too. BUT not in their classes! What made me sit up and take notice of Downes' comment is the realization that this (flow and syndication) is where we should be starting with our students! We should be taking them to the proverbial stream and dunking them in during their first week or two of class--"Go forth and find knowledge, record it, and then share it, and profit from what your neighbor shares!" If the first experience is exhilarating enough, then QEP teachers and students both will want to repeat this immersion regularly and often!

Yes, these forays into the unknown probably will be buttressed by textbook lectures, quizzes, PowerPoints, essays--our 19th and 20 century academic paraphernalia that we haven't discarded yet. But it's in the in-between class time when QEP exists and when these new practices will take root . . . if they are scheduled, collaboratively carried out, and carefully nurtured. Our students' evolution depends on it.


  1. On the one hand, I am excited—perhaps even dazzled—by the possibilities of the new technologies and learning modes, but on the other hand, I am amazed at how resilient and resourceful our old technology, writing, is. As I see it, spoken and written language are two of the oldest and most resourceful technologies ever devised by humanity. No matter how much the new technologies and networks reshape the way we teach and learn, skillful writing and speaking (and reading and listening) still play a central role in the ways that humans conduct their affairs.

  2. When I began teaching online classes in 1998, the college administration had little or no faith in the online distance educational program or the instructors. Most admin and other faculty members viewed the "online" faculty as lazy, taking the easy way out; online classes equaled negligence in our teaching obligations. Now those same administrators and faculty—in all progressive colleges and universities—are striving to attract more online students. Fortunately, our delivery methods have improved from the dark ages of online teaching. This means that now most faculty are required to use online courses, teaching software platforms, and social networking applications. I’m reading Paul Levinson’s New New Media (Pearson Allyn and Bacon, 2009). This book differentiates between new media (e-mail and websites) and the new new media of blogs, Facebook, and Twitter—just to name a few. Definitely an eye-opener for me! I blinked and fell behind in the world of technology. Now, I’m struggling to catch up. Thanks for the info you give in this blog. It helps put our newer media in perspective. Perhaps the concept of Flow and Syndication prepares us to adjust our pedagogy to address the newest of the new media of the future.