In this weekly Media Literacy Digest, open education advocate George Siemens, explores and reports about emergent media, learning, education and on the future impact that new technologies may have on society.
Photo credit: rgbspace
Inside this Media Literacy Digest:
learning, networks, knowledge, technology, trends
by George Siemens
Networks serve as a useful model to describe electricity grids, business activity, the internet, spread of diseases, and even obesity.
Caution is warranted, however, in over emphasizing networks.
In themselves, networks reveal a structure and mode of organizing. They can serve as both a foundation on which to build societal structures (such as education) and as a gateway to action.
Network analysis reveals the flow of information in an organization.
As important as the structure itself is the why and how of connection forming.
For most of the late 80's and into early 2000, innovation on the desktop seemed slow or even non-existent.
Microsoft dominated the personal computer experience. That has changed.
Between Apple, Google, and open source software, innovation abounds.
have generated a new spirit of progress around information and communication technologies.
Microsoft recognizes the threat and is responding by developing an online version of its Office suite. Techcrunch has a (mostly) positive overview of the service, expected for public release next year.
Dave Cormier offers an insightful (and touching) post on how identity and memory are preserved online. He compares the passing of a colleague (last year) and his brother (20 years ago) and how they are remembered today.
The identity people create online today is, in a sense, a gift to their children and future generations. I know my grandparents through a few black and white pictures. As Cormier notes, his children / grandchildren will know him through rich media. Memories preserved in full colour.
Too often, when discussing identity, the focus rests on "do not post this online, you will regret it in the future when you are [running for office, interviewing for a new job, etc.]". The flip side of this argument is aptly expressed in Dave's post.
The real challenge many people face in work productivity is coping with distractions. I find it rather easy to ignore activities I ought to be doing with sites like
at my finger tips.
It is always been easy to find distractions (going for coffee with a colleague, chats around the water cooler), but even then, a bit of effort was required. I actually had to leave my office.
Now, distractions are much more accessible. But there are ways of coping with, of course, more technology.
Britannica is getting sloppy with their blog postings. Most posts - even ones I disagree with - are usually fairly well though-tout.
Then, they post this: The Future World of Work: Flexible and Decentralized. The post is poorly presented and largely speculative. Most obvious is the generational argument.
Work in organizations is changing. That has nothing to do with generational differences. Technological advances in communication and collaboration tools are producing a distributed workforce. What does that have to do with age?
The idea that work is changing is worth exploring. The concept that it is generational is silly.
With CCK09 now underway, I am having a bit of trouble keeping up with posts and reflections of learners.
"... Humans have an innate motivation to participate in shared knowlege and that it is this motivation that makes writing for "real" audiences more rewarding for students than writing for an individual "teacher"... is connective learning naturally self-reinforcing?
Is the building of community a means to an end (learning), an end in and of itself, or both?
Put another way, would you keep writing your blog of you knew nobody was reading it?"
Location and immediacy are two big trends developing in part to mobile devices - constant connectivity enables us to receive information in context - i.e. location... and microblogging produces a constant flow of information. The implications of immediacy is particularly interesting.
What used to be an off the record comment can now be broadcast immediately.
Consider Obama's experience this week. For celebrities and leaders, the concept of a "safe zone" or an "off period" simply do not exist.
I wonder how many higher education faculty are blissfully unaware that their statements / lecture habits / clothing choice are the topic of lively discussion and commentary on Facebook / Twitter / Friendfeed?
Multitasking has gotten bad publicity recently.
I personally do not think I multitask - I task switch. Some people can task switch rapidly. Others prefer to focus on one element at a time. However, this article - why studies about multitasking Are missing the point - takes a different stance.
The author states:
"If you judge a juggler by how many times the balls hit the floor and contrast that with someone throwing and catching one ball at a time, the juggler will always lose. But the juggler is doing something different".
This is a valid point, but it also misses the differences in the type of activities we engage in.
But... when I want to create something (a paper, design a course, create a podcast), I need a different approach. If I continue to utilize a flow approach, I will likely not apply the depth of thinking needed to complete the project well.
Context is king. Approaches to learning and interacting are rooted in differing contexts.
Information rich, and attention poor addresses a frustration many of us feel: There is too much! it is all going too fast!
I agree with the author that attention is the attribute in greatest demand today. But that misses an important point: Abundance is not simply more, it is also different. Which means (and the author addresses this slightly at the end of the article) we need to think about what changes in this world of "much more".
In my own, obviously non-opinionated view, education as a system has an opportunity to take a different view of how educational experiences are designed and delivered.
Open online courses - such as CCK09 - serve as a transparent experiment.
I am frequently negative on Google (largely because in a few year's time, Google will likely have a similar lock-in in many of its services / markets to what Microsoft had at its peak). However, the DataLiberation initiative by Google is a huge step in the right direction:
At the heart of this lies our strong commitment to an open web run on open standards.
We think open is better than closed - not because closed is inherently bad, but because when it is easy for users to leave your product, there is a sense of urgency to improve and innovate in order to keep your users.
When your users are locked in, there is a strong temptation to be complacent and focus less on making your product better.
About George Siemens
George Siemens is the Associate Director in the Learning Technologies Centre at the University of Manitoba. George blogs at www.elearnspace.org where he shares his vision on the educational landscape and the impact that media technologies have on the educational system. George Siemens is also the author of Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age and the book "Knowing Knowledge" where he developes a learning theory called connectivism which uses a network as the central metaphor for learning and focuses on knowledge as a way to making connections.
George Siemens -
Untangling The Web - Mostafa Fawzy
Microsoft and Google - Blogs Zdnet
Identity, Memory, Death and The Internet - Vasyl Yakobchuk
Taming Digital Distractions - Pitchengine
The Future of Work - Linda Bucklin
Thoughts On New Learning - Jacek Chabraszewski
Immediacy - Chris Lamphear
Why Studies About Multitasking Are Missing The Point - Arpad Nagy-Bagoly
Information Rich... and Attention Poor - Yegor Korzh
Liberating Data From Google - Google Public Policy Blogspot