In this week issue of Media Literacy Digest, open education and connectivism advocate George Siemens, explores and reports about emerging media, communication technologies and education-related trends. His goal is one of helping you make good sense of the many changes taking place around you and their possible impact on how we work, learn and communicate together.
Photo credit: argus456
Inside this Media Literacy Digest:
learning, networks, knowledge, technology, trends
by George Siemens
I am not a fan of measurement - largely because it forces technique and structure onto systems often better served by acknowledgment interdependence between entities. But, we need a way to measure openness in universities. Why? Largely to raise awareness of the multi-faceted nature of openness.
Being open involves more than posting a few courses online. A metric has a way of drawing attention to concepts that can be analyzed and understood in policy meetings. Plus, seeing your university rated below your competitors can be very motivating for administrators.
So, to this end, I recommend the formation of something like Measurement of Openness in Education Systems (MOES).
This should include:
What else should be considered for a metric of openness?
How do organizations plan and develop value points?
Value network analysis provides insight into how systemic structure influences innovation potential. Consider the iPhone vs. Google phone value propositions:
"The good side of networks is that they can make it easier for ideas to spread.
The problem with networks is that to get people to actually adopt your new idea, you often have to get them to break links within their existing network, and this can be very difficult. That is why it is important to understand how to build a position within the value network."
Understanding innovation and value in the mobile space is important for technology and media organizations. Mobiles far outnumber PCs / laptops in number and in the manner in which they are integrated into daily habits. Google has moved aggressively into mobiles.
The author of this insightful analysis builds on the value network analysis of Google and Apple:
"Apple do not want to destroy the telcos; they just want to use them as a conduit to sell their user experience. Google, however, are another matter.
Google is an advertising corporation. Their whole business model is predicated on breaking down barriers to access - barriers which stop the public from accessing rich internet content plastered with Google's ads.
Google want the mobile communications industry to switch to Version 2, pure bandwidth competition. In fact, they would be happiest if the mobile networks would go away, get out of the users' faces and hand out free data terminals with unlimited free bandwidth. More bandwidth, more web browsing, more adverts served, more revenue for Google."
Microsoft has been strangely absent from mobiles.
I remember reading in early 2000 that Microsoft was shifting its focus to mobiles. Since that time, they have been quite ineffective.
Who actually uses Windows Mobile? I find it odd that a company with the resources and intelligence of Microsoft is unable to develop a strategy for competing in the mobile marketplace.
I have posted a rant / whine on the current state of thinking in openness: Openness is not so open anymore.
History is worth studying (duh). But I fear that even when we do study it, humanity is wired in such a manner as to relive its errors.
Ironically, the lessons of history seem to have more merit when they are history.
War, political action, and human rights movements offer historians a podium from which to declare how events from one, two, or even three thousand years ago can provide guidance to today's most prominent concerns. Those voices are too often ignore.
"Now" has a level of arrogance attached to it. It is different. It is our generation. It is "now".
In an analogy-pushing article - Google, Rome, and Empire - the author argues that similarities exist between Romes development of roads and what Google is trying to do with Chrome OS (read the comments in the article - they challenge many of the assertions made by the author).
I am less interested in the specific declarations of how Chrome OS may or may not serve as the Internet's infrastructure in the future, than I am in the value of applying history's lesson to the digital world.
Is the internet a "new world"? Or is it simply an overhyped-extension of the physical world? Do different rules apply? Is it "conquered" according to the military strategies of centuries past?
While in Brisbane a few weeks ago, I met Tim Kastelle. In addition to his faculty role at Queensland University, he is an active blogger / twitter / social media-er. His focus is on innovation and leadership - important topics for the education system as a whole.
"I think that the best response to this is actually to approach innovation alogorithmically. What this basically means is that the way to innovate is to generate a lot of ideas, figure out ways to try them out cheaply and quickly, and then scale-up the ones that seem most promising."
(reminds me of Meyer and Davis' "seed, select, amplify" model in It is Alive).
A network of individuals knows more than a single individual. That is somewhat obvious. Sure, "wisdom of the crowds" (Wikipedia) can quickly become "idiocy of the crowds" (YouTube comments)... and experts do know more than novices (though a network of experts knows more than an individual expert).
This is evident in the education field. Education employs more people than almost any other sector - 1 in 16 jobs in the US. Which means expertise is widely distributed and capturing great ideas about teaching practices can provide much value. Looking for a simple way to aggregate these ideas?
I have heard the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning described as the most cited journal in the educational technology field. It helps that it is an open journal.
Openness, after all, increases the prospect of impact and influence as barriers of interaction are reduced.
According to editor Terry Anderson, 2009 marked IRRODL's 10th year... and the year with the greatest number of issues (6 in total). The final issue was just released.
Congrats on a great year for IRRODL!
"Then we look at the public sector, and in particular the big research universities, and what do we see?
- lecture capture,
- multiple screens in the classroom,
- learning management systems with Powerpoint slides and pdf files loaded, and a
- total lack of recognition that the current formal higher education system is failing, and a
- total lack of vision of what is needed for the future, and
- the role that information and communications technologies can play in formal learning."
I think there is too much focus on trying to innovate within the system rather than innovating the system itself. The latter requires vision, leadership, and experimentation / failure.
The concepts expressed here are important for software use in education - Publish / Subscribe Matrix Could Explode Into Glass-Smooth Platform:
"Publish once and your content is everywhere, immediately. Open your browser and it will show you just the kind of content you need, from all around the web, targeting your particular circumstances like clickstream, social graph and geographic location."
As educators, we think students need to come to us, to our space of learning. It is a holdover from physical class spaces. We have just applied it to software. But it is not necessary.
Student's content should come to us, but students should not be forced to come to our software spaces to contribute.
Earlier this year, while in Rome, I was interviewed by Robin Good on a wide range of topics. He is been posting the interview in small (5-10 min) recordings.
The most recent recording is on the future of education - i.e. is deschooling society possible?
Short answer: not likely - society is an institutionalizing system. We are embedded, even shepherded into systems from school to employment, to mortgages, to retirement.
Some educators have started using networked technologies to reduce the institutional field of education, but these are still a minority. It is possible to see the development of an alternative system driven by this minority... but much work remains if there is even a slim prospect of a non-institutional model of learning in the future.
We are currently in a process of translating (and renegotiating) principles democracy, individualism, identity, authority, liberty, equality, and power for a digital world.
Corporations (largely copyright holders) risk overwriting established law of individual privacy with three-strikes approaches to combating file sharing or copyright violations.
In this renegotiation of basic rights and democracy, technology has become philosophy. Twitter served as an outlet for Iranian elections protesters. In response, Twitter has been hacked by the Iranian Cyber Army.
I do not think I am being overly dramatic in stating that the ideals that in the past were the source of physical conflict between nations are now being fought in software and legislation. But too few people are aware of what is at stake.
Social media (that term that now means everything and as a consequence, nothing) has caught the attention of most organizations.
Companies have faced the impact of criticism by social networks (United Breaks Guitars, Dell Hell, etc.)... as have celebrities (do I really have to list names?).
For companies, concerns arise as to how employees engage with blogs / twitter / facebook / youtube in representing their corporation. As a result, numerous organizations have created social media participation guidelines. Here is a list of 113.
If you are looking for something more along the lines of a workshop, Australia's Telstra has posted their social media participation training guide.
I am conflicted on this - why reduce things to policies and guidelines? Sure, there will always be a few people that will do silly things, but I wonder if the dampening effect of policies does not have a higher cost than allowing a few mistakes.
"This kind of pedagogical approach demands time, enthusiasm, and enough self-confidence to make mistakes in front of students and model that as part of the learning process...
The process of playing, experimenting, breaking, stretching, adapting, adopting, or rejecting - that is something students should be equipped for."
What I find most interesting is the tone of discussions like this - optimism about teaching and learning (even though he acknowledges not all students enjoyed the process). I too have found experimentation and play in learning design and delivery are motivating and satisfying. The challenge, of course, is for educators to remember the student in the process :) .
Click on the image above to open the presentation
Technique has a way of forcing standardization on systems, minimizing innovation in the process. We need technique at some levels, but with rapid change, it (technique) becomes a hindrance.Technique is about duplication and scale. Innovation is about novel, serendipitous connections.
I gave a talk at University of Queensland on Tyranny of Technique:
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 -
Measurement of Openness In Education Systems - Joachim Wendler
Innovation & Mobiles - Feng Yu
Openness Is Not So Open Anymore - Arman Zhenikeyev
Google, Rome, Empire - antclausen
Spreading Ideas and Innovation - Iwan Zeller
#movemeon - arrow
IRRODL: New Issue - Dejan Jovanovic
State of Elearning 2009 - Kheng Ho Toh
Publish / Subscribe Matrix Could Explode Into Glass-Smooth Platfor - David Humphrey
Future of Education: Deschooling Society? - Jose Manuel Gelpi Diaz
Technology As Philosophy - Alex Bramwell
Social Media Policies - Oleksiy Mark
Engaging Students With Engaging Tools - Yuri Arcurs
Tyranny of Technique -