Thursday, January 24, 2013

Technological boundaries

I love electronic technology.

I haven’t always been an early adopter, but I am usually in the 2nd wave of technology users. I’ve had a PC since 1987, got my first cell phone (it looked like a walkie-talkie) in 1993, and an iPhone 1 in 2007. Currently I’m typing on a MacBook with an iPad next to the computer waiting for a FaceTime call.

With that background, what I’m about to confess may not make much sense. 

My confession is I’m also working very hard to be sure that technology doesn’t invade all corners of my life. I’m very conscious that without boundaries, anyone can allow technology to infiltrate every aspect of their lives, resulting in the all too familiar scene of people checking FaceBook or Twitter every time there is a lull in a conversation.

Since it’s Christmas break and my kids are out of school I’ve been picking up DVD’s at my local library. Over the past two nights we’ve watched a couple sci-fi films about technology and the future. The first was I Robot, a film about consciousness in machines – “the ghost in the machine” as the film says. What do we do when the machines decide that the best way to protect humanity is to eliminate some of us?

Last night it was The Island, a film about human cloning and what happens when “the product” realizes he or she is a person, not only a clone.

In both films technology has morphed into something evil. In I Robot, the hero, played by Will Smith, has always had skepticism about robots and the way they have infiltrated society. In The Island, the business people who make a fortune selling living “insurance policies” resort to murder to protect their position and role.

These are extreme films and we obviously aren’t at this point, but what are the signs that society is moving into this direction? Is E-learning one way? At this point we are using real human instructors and simply allowing the web to be the carrier of information from one person to the next (or class).

But what about the medium through which this information is transmitted? Mobile technology allows all of us the simplicity of checking in wherever we are. I enjoy using FourSquare and Yelp, or Twitter and Facebook, and even though my daughter says I’m too old, I have an Instagram account. As an adult with years of experience (and hopefully wisdom) I know I need to be aware of what I post and where my information is going. But what about our kids? I worry sometimes about my two teenagers who are growing up in a 24/7 switched on world. Will they have the discernment necessary to survive in this environment?

I talk to them about their posts, I caution them about putting too much information out there for others to see and potentially use against them. More than anything I worry that for them, “normal” is being able to access the web whenever and however they want. I believe this can be a good thing, as long as discernment and boundaries are in place.

So why all the doom and gloom? I simply want to be discerning. I want to enter this course with eyes open to the wonderful tools for learning that are out there. I want to glean as much as I can. At the same time, I want to come with a healthy bit of skepticism, technology won’t solve all our problems and the best way to learn is still life-on-life, person-to-person. If technology can help facilitate those connections. I’m in.


Monday, January 07, 2013

Elevator speech

I'm creating an "elevator speech" for the new MA program we're developing at Tabor College Wichita. Please have a look and add your comments to help me make this "speech" even better. Thanks. 

“Not only can anyone be an entrepreneur, but they must be.” – Reid Hoffman, cofounder and executive chairman of LinkedIn Corporation, and author of The Startup of You.

The Theological Education Department at Tabor College Wichita is considering introducing an online masters degree in Entrepreneurial Ministry Leadership. The current era is defined by rapid change therefore ministry today requires entrepreneurial leaders who are trained in biblical studies, who are aware of their own strengths and weaknesses, and who have the ability to lead and think creatively and innovatively. We are designing this program for such a leader.

This degree will emphasize a variety of areas, including: the Bible, creativity, understanding culture, semiotics, and how to start new ministries in a variety of contexts.

The degree will be delivered online, along with a faculty supported learning community, an international learning experience, and supervised ministry experience in the student’s local context. 

@edcmooc #edcmooc

Saturday, January 05, 2013

My intro to MOOC's

I’m embarking on a journey without leaving my home office. I’m about to begin my first MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). I’ve signed up for E-Learning and Digital Cultures through Coursera ( and instructors teach the course from the University of Edinburgh.

Even though the course doesn’t begin until the end of January, I’ve been floored by the opportunities to connect with others in the class. Apparently there are over 30,000 signed up- from someone who works in Higher Education that truly is MASSIVE.

As an instructor in the process of developing an online degree at Tabor College Wichita, this course promises to help me find new ways of interacting with students as well as provide content and delivery methods that speak to people today. As an instructor who has taught pedagogy, I’m very interested in how the form and content of this course connects with adult learners.

I’m curious to know how many of the 30,000 actually participate and at what level(s). I know there are students signed up from around the globe and I wonder how issues of language will be resolved. I wonder how I will fit in and learn in this context.

Starting this course has already led to personal benefits. As a result of this course I’m now on Twitter and have restarted this blog. Two things on my “to do” list for a long time. The journey continues and I look forward to seeing where it leads.