In this weekly Media Literacy Digest, open education and connectivism advocate George Siemens, takes you to news and stories on emerging media, communication technologies and education-related trends, helping you make better sense of the many changes taking place around you and understand how these directly impact your future life.
Photo credit H Berends
Inside this Media Literacy Digest
learning, networks, knowledge, technology, trends
by George Siemens
Simple, single functionality tools are great for collaboration.
I have been involved in several implementations of larger-scale systems for collaboration (like Sharepoint). Adoption is generally slow, unless the tool is marketed heavily in the organization and integrated into workflow.
In contrast, simple tools like wikis, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, and social networking services can help to improve collaboration without the challenges of complex software systems. The same can be said of learning management systems.
It is much easier to learn a single tool that to learn an entire system.
Since July, Dave Cormier and I have been hosting a monthly session on Social Media: Trends and Implications. The recordings for all sessions, including December's, are available here. We are continuing the series in 2010 and will provide more information on dates soon. It has been one of the more enjoyable projects I have been involved with over the last year...
Computers have had major effects on some aspects of information consumption. In the past, information consumption was overwhelmingly passive, with telephone being the only interactive medium.
Thanks to computers, a full third of words and more than half of bytes are now received interactively.
Reading, which was in decline due to the growth of television, tripled from 1980 to 2008, because it is the overwhelmingly preferred way to receive words on the Internet.
The report summarizes how much data an average American encounters.
But going through the report, I was struck with a sense of "so what??".
I know that massive amounts of information exist. I struggle to stay current in my tiny corner of the world. What does a report - telling me I likely use 34 GB data a day - actually do for me?
This is an important point - How to Get the Right Information to Improve Performance:
"Some organizations undercut their ability to discover their way to greatness by confusing the information needed to see problems with the information needed to solve them. So, they overburden staff with establishing the former and then underarm them in tackling the latter."
I am finding less and less value in the term "learning".
Learning is constant, ongoing. We cannot stop it if we wanted to (short of watching reality TV or reading a Blackboard lawsuit filing).
Often when the term "learning" is used, I think we really mean "sense making". We want to make sense of our environment.
We want to know what we should do, what types of evidence supports viewpoints others hold, or how we should think about politics / global warming / economics / etc. Sure, at the most basic level, learning is involved. But when applied to work or even decisions we need to make in our lives, our focus is not on some esoteric concept of learning. Instead, the intent is to orient ourselves to a complex set of phenomenon and to plan potential courses of action.
If you want to give a conference keynote - especially in education - the template used by many speakers is "look, here is a picture of the classroom. It has not changed in 100 years". This is then followed with a discussion that branches into either: "It is no longer about scarcity" or "learners are different". Show many images of web 2.0 companies. Add pictures of students being bored.
On the other hand, if you want to write an article, use the word "paradigm" frequently and make it seem that you understand the change happening, but that most people "do not get it". Case in point: Modeling a Paradigm Shift: From Producer Innovation to User and Open Collaborative Innovation.
My irritation with terms aside, it is a good article encouraging organizations to experiment with openness as a model of innovation: "Evidence has now accumulated that innovators who elect to freely reveal their innovations, can gain significant private benefits - and also avoid some private costs."
The article then goes on to explore three innovation models:
The paper exhibits an appreciation for formulas that is generally only found in papers trying to make an economic point. Reduce all ideas to formulas. Produce many graphs and images. Feel good about clarifying concepts for the masses.
In Auckland, I was involved in a panel on Cascading Change.
Seb Fiedler shares his views of academic engagement:
"For me this is not a mere matter of delivering a good performance for an audience.
I actually want to hear other voices and opinions on a particular theme and not only broadcast what I have already thought through and then finish that off with a little harmless question and answer ping-pong.
The latter seems to be considered the height of audience participation in academic conferences these days"
I agree with Seb's concerns.
What passes for engagement in conferences is very poor. Questions, dialogue, discussions, critiques, and debates should form the bulk of conference activity. We need a better model.
Social media is now a stratospherically ambiguous term. I mean, really, what does it mean?
Apparently, everything is social media - a blog, a youtube video, a mobile phone.
What is not social media? This lack of clarity is always a good indication that the hype cycle is feeding itself. With that vagueness in mind 10 ways social media will change in 2010 looks to the future and offers potential trends.
However, Google's announcement today of Goggles - the worst-named product in their arsenal - is quite interesting. Basically: Take a picture and Google returns search results. Soon we will search the physical world in the same way as we search the digital world. Nice to see Google innovating in search again. Unfortunately, it is currently confined to Android devices. Additional innovations announced today can be found here.
"The roles the Internet and social networking play in the timely communication, wide-area team-building, and urgent mobilization required to solve broad-scope, time-critical problems".
DARPA positioned 10 red weather balloons in different locations around the US. The first group that located all 10 balloons would receive $40,000 and bragging rights.
A team from MIT successfully completed the competition in 9 hours.
MIT's strategy is rather interesting: Blend networks as an information sharing system with human motivation of earning money. Networks are only as useful as the method in which they are utilized and the manner in which actors within the network are motivated to participate.
I have paid for all of the music on my laptop. And images (through iStockphoto). I do not use P2P services for sharing music or movies - as I type, I am downloading Important Things with Demetri Martin off iTunes.
I do not mind paying for content if I find value in it. So it is easy to think that some of the developments around intellectual property and copyright are not relevant to me. Wrong. Very, very wrong.
I make certain choices about how I acquire and use content… others make different choices.
Copyright holders in various countries of the world are starting to pursue very stringent laws (such as three strikes) to promote what many would consider to be a pre-digital era view of content ownership. That is an important discussion and it impacts everyone who uses a computer / mobile phone. But that is not my real concern at this stage.
My biggest concern is that copyright is beginning to take the highest place in legal hierarchy, subverting personal freedoms. The concern is well-expressed in this manifesto:
"Copyright should not be placed above citizens' fundamental rights to privacy, security, presumption of innocence, effective judicial protection and freedom of expression"
About George Siemens
From late 2009, George Siemens holds a position at the the Technology Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute in Athabasca University. He was former 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 -
Using Technology To Improve Collaboration - Bloggism
Social Media: Trends and Implications - Insomnia
How Much Information - Tom Schmucker
How To Get The Right Information To Improve Performance - Yuri Arcurs
Modeling a Paradigm Shift: From Producer Innovation To User and Open Collaborative Innovation - Lumagraph
Cascading Change - Picsfive
10 Ways Social Media Will Change In 2010 - Penn Olson
The Physical Is Virtual - Google Goggle
Balloons, Networks, and Human Motivation - DARPA Network Challenge
Why We Need To Pay Attention To Copyright - Kin Hang Norman Chan
Socializing Open Learning - Universitat Oberta de Catalunya