Lately, I have been thinking a lot about meta-learning.

The idea of meta-learning came from Donald B. Maudsley (1979) in the field of social psychology. Maudsley described meta-learning as “the process by which learners become aware of and increasingly in control of habits of perception, inquiry, learning, and growth that they have internalized”.  Later on, Jon Biggs (1985) simplified it by saying it as a state of “being aware of and taking control of one’s own learning.” More recently, Jay Cross has an entire site dedicating to meta-learning at the Meta-Learning Lab.

When it comes to e-learning, it is even more important to focus on the process of learning – how to improve it, self-correct it, and benchmark against best practices. Often times, in self-paced, individualized e-learning environment, with the absence of a tutor, learners are required to self-direct and self-regulate one’s own learning. This is where honing in meta-learning skills will come in handy.

Here are some ideas and the corresponding tools/technologies that would help with applying meta-learning online:

Setting learning goals Use Remember the Milk to set your goals and check them off. You can break it down into micro-level: e.g. goal today is to watch two YouTube videos relating to your learning topic and read 30 pages on a particular book.
Reflect on what you learned Blog about your learning experiences in Blogger and invite others to comment. Access discussion forums.
Monitor your own progress Digital flash cards can help you review and benchmark how well you are learning a certain concept. Try StudyBlue, they are fairly easy to use and quick to set up.
Keep track of your learning Take copious notes using Evernote,bookmark and annotate sites you visited with Delicious.
Collaborate with others/seek out peer reviews and supports Use an online collaboration tool such as Google Docs
Sharing what you’ve learned with your peers Share your ideas on Slideshare, or on a wiki tool like Wikispaces.
Learn in a holistic way Follow subject matter experts and thought-leaders in your field in Twitter, subscribe to Google Reader on topics that are relevant to your learning.
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People In Montreal

I like to dedicate this to some of my friends in Montreal. They all contributed to making my time there so memorable.Thanks!

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Jean-Talon Market

One of my favorite hang out spot is the Jean-Talon Market and the surrounding area. Good food, diverse neighborhood and good people watching in general. I am drawn to all the colors and the movement of the market. Excellent location for sketching.  Here are a couple of sketches from there.

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Ice Cream Parlor in Montreal

There is no lacking of ice cream parlor or gelato places in Montreal. One of my favorite is just round the corner from the Visual Arts Centre where I take my class. It is called Le Bilboquet on Sherbrooke Street, Westmount. You can even get cakes, cookies, and crepes (only in Montreal!) with your ice-cream.

Here is a sketch from there.

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Today, I am posting a couple sketches from Westmount, where I am taking my painting class from the Visual Arts Centre. The Visual Arts Centre started out as the Potter’s Club in 1946 but now they have over 1000 students taking all sort of art related courses.

The area it is located is called Westmount. What I found interesting is that the city tries so hard not to be part of Montreal. According to Wikipedia. The city was “first incorporated as city in 1874 and remained so until Jan 1, 2002 when it was forced to become a borough of the City of Montreal. On June 20, 2004, it voted to ‘demerge’ and became an independent city again on Jan 1. 2006.” There you have it, this area certainly have a distinctive flavor.

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A couple of skeches around town

Here is one I did while strolling around McGill University campus. The other one is one of my cafe scene as I seem to spend most of the time in and around cafes observing people. Montreal is an excellent place for coffee, one can never run out of coffee shops to go to. This particular one is located at Old Montreal, called Les Délices de l’Érable (Maple Delights), located 84 Rue Saint-Paul E Montreal, QC H2Y 1G6. Everything is made of maple syrup, including face cream! It is definitely Canadian as Canadian gets.

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Montreal Botanical Garden

Spent a lovely day at the Jardin botanique de Montréal (Montreal Botanical Garden). I am going to dedicate this site to some of my travel sketches while I am away this year globe trotting. So this is a first of my series while I am in Montreal.

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Open City Workshop Recap

To said that I attended the Edmonton Open City Workshop today was an understatement. Rather, I like to think that I actively engaged in conversations about open information and open city workshop edmontondata, shared ideas with my fellow citizen, and collaborated with our city government.

Rarely did I feel as energized as I had at the end of a long day sitting inside the basement of an art gallery, albeit a rather nice, brand sparkling new Alberta Art Gallery basement.

After the positive and forward-looking introduction by Councillor  Don Iveson with a reference to the Massey Lecture 1967 by Martin Luther King Jr., the workshop kick-started with a really inspiring panel discussion on “Government as a Platform”.  The panel consisted of Alayne Sinclair, David Eaves, Mark Kuznicki, and Nick Charney. The theme emerging from the discussion is that the open data movement in our city is about transparency, empowerment and collaboration. I especially like the notion that virtual space helps define physical space, so the question is how can we make the city our own and what can we, as citizen and active participant, contribute to this process?

The other point that struck a chord with me is the fact that we are in transition from an industrial, hierarchical model of governance to one that resemble more of a network. Government needs to act as an enabler – a transition from service provider to convener. It really is about providing opportunity for other people to innovate and to make it easier for people to self-organize to do things they care about (for more reading on that idea, I would recommend Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky).

It is also important to pay attention to the notion of control – the wisdom from the panel is that, the more you share, the more influence you have.

Then there is the question about engagement – what are we supposed to be engage to do?  The panel talked about the need to start creating dialogue about options, and about services as they are being delivered. I love the analogy David said about government acting like a vending machine. Sometimes, for some services, we don’t want to be engaged, it should just work , like going to get your driving license. In that instance, David claims, that the service should function more like a vending machine.

After lunch, we had two brebreak out session notes at Open City Workshopakout sessions to take part in the discussion. The first session I choose to be part of is about digital divide and access issue. This is an issue close to my heart as it relates to open education and open content. We debated on what kind of digital divide are there, the concerns around technology literacy, aging population, cultural and socio-economical differences as well as people who have special needs. The consensus was that we need to provide options and alternatives to people; the public library was also mentioned as a potential major player in narrowing the digital divide.

The second session I went to is about what is a city and how we can build community with open data. We touched on the idea about learning from other locales in problem solving and using open data as a PR tool to attract people to the city.

The day was wrapped up by a few exciting announcement by Chris Moore, CIO, City of Edmonton. He and his team at the City office has done a tremendous job in moving this initiative forward as well as putting together this wonderful day for us to convene and discuss various issues.

The exciting upcoming news are:

  1. The city is planning on (tentatively) launching a City App for iPhone on April 19.
  2. We are now part of the movement, joining cities like San Francisco and D.C.
  3. We are now developing and calling for a national strategy for Code for Canada, model after the Code for America.

For more information, you can check out or email

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Fifteen e-learning people to follow on Twitter

These are educators I follow on my e-learning list and I found their tweets valuable and they are active twitterers. They are not in any particular order:

  • Steve Wheeler @timbuckteeth
  • Grainne Conole @gconole
  • Josie Fraser @josiefraser
  • Don Tapscott @dtapscott
  • David Wiley @opencontent
  • John Traxler @johntraxler
  • Mark Milliron @markmilliron
  • Stephen Downes @downes
  • Dave Cormier @davecormier
  • Clay Shirky @cshirky
  • Michael Hanley @michael_hanley
  • Alec Couros @courosa
  • George Semens @gsiemens
  • Harold Jarche @hjarche
  • Jay Cross @jaycross
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Aardvark as knowledge management/e-learning tool

So I have been playing around with Aardvark lately.

What is Aardvark? In a nutshell, it is a question and answer service. You ask a question, and you get an answer back from someone in real time. Aardvark’s job is to match your question with the right people to reply to. In return, you are also ask to answer questions by other with topics that you specified or suggested by Aardvark.

For the two weeks that I have been tinkering with it, I have to say that I am impressed. First of all, an Aardvark agent is added to my iChat contact list.

ichat screen shot

I like the fact that I don’t have to do anything and it makes it easy to use. When someone has a question for you, the agent would initiate a chat such as this:

question pop-up box in Aarvark

I can choose to answer it (by typing in “sure”) or skip it (by typing in “pass” or “busy”).

This past week, I have asked 8 questions and responded to 10. Each time I asked a question, the response time is on average less than one minute. In some cases, it is almost instantaneous. I have received multiple response and I am impressed that they are all knowledgeable, accurate and helpful replies.

Questions I have asked ranged from “What Web 2.0 tool would you recommend for collaboration project for college students” to “Which area in Calgary is good for a single professional to live”. Of course, the more specific your question is, the better it is for others to help answer it.

All these real time questions and answers led me to think about one thing – how come we don’t use such a system for e-learning and for work-based knowledge management? Imagine how handy this could be, if you get stuck on a tricky concept you are studying, what better to get clarifications from the collective wisdom of your fellow students. Tutors could be part of this community too, as long as they don’t get bombarded with tens of thousands of questions a day (though tutors can potentially monitor the questions and answers on the Aardvark’s “history” page to make sure that the questions are in line with the area of study). So how can we leverage technology such as this to benefit learning and training?

Come to think of it, this will be a question I should post on Aardvark 🙂

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