In this weekly Media Literacy Digest, open education and connectivism advocate George Siemens, explores and reports about emergent media, technology and learning, 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 Vasyl Yakobchuk
Inside this Media Literacy Digest
learning, networks, knowledge, technology, trends
by George Siemens
Facebook is building its strategy on this simple concept: Wherever I go, there I am.
The scattered, fragmented identity that many people have online (a profile on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, blogs, Flickr, YouTube, etc.) is a real challenge to manage.
Just this past week, I discovered my Educause profile was still listing University of Manitoba as my employer, rather than TEKRI at Athabasca University. Not a big issue... except that an upcoming conference (where I am presenting) drew information about speakers from the Educause site for its paper-based brochure.
I am sure other sites still list Red River College as my employer.
I have no idea where I have posted profiles.
Would not it be easier to manage an online identity if all this "stuff" was in one place?
Enter Facebook Connect.
Instead of creating a profile with each new service, one set login tied to your Facebook profile, makes life simpler.
“Today, Facebook says 80,000 websites have added Facebook Connect, and 60 million Facebook users engage with Facebook connect on these third party websites each month.”
Basically, Facebook wants to own my online identity. Unfortunately, Facebook is the online service that I trust least.
The 2010 edition of the Horizon Report is now available.
I will not comment on the content of the report - I am sure others will critique / approve the specific trends addressed.
Instead, I want to discuss the process of putting the report together.
A good research project can unearth cause / effect / correlation that may not be obvious at the start. But, when you are trying to identify trends, a method is needed that permits sharing diverse views and then trusting that people directly involved in the educational technology field will be capable of identifying and classifying key trends.
The iterative, conversational approach that NMC has adopted is among the most effective I have come across for identifying trends and future directions.
Two suggestion for NMC:
Given the enormous amounts of data being produced through social media, Department of Education statistics, etc., making sense of data is critical.
Targeting a few key data areas would extend the value of report. (for example, have a look at numerous social media monitoring services).
While I can see the logistical value of having an advisory board assist in the final production of the report, I would like to see a broader net cast at the start of trend identification. Why not open it up completely? Yes, it will produce a mess of views, but that diversity is exactly what prevents calcification of views that occurs when similar groups of individuals are involved in brainstorming.
Many aspects of education, training, and development need to be questioned.
Systems are created to serve the needs of an era. When eras change, systems do not... at least not until they encounter a disruptive force (in education - the financial climate looks like it may serve this role) that causes individuals to question the value of the assumptions underlying the existing systems.
“The virtual tutor takes care of the basic concepts that typically dominate lectures, leaving professors open to plan the face-to-face component of the course according to what parts of the curriculum the software tells him students are picking up more slowly, and what concepts could bear reinforcement.”
Privacy is difficult.
Our purchases, searches, and actions are recorded to varying degrees.
Facebook and networking sites are pushing the boundaries of what we have in the past viewed as privacy.
I think a historical view of privacy is a bit of an illusion (Stephen Downes has talked about this in the past from his experience growing up in a small community. My experience is somewhat similar - privacy means very little in small communities. Trust is partly formed by knowing the rather inconsequential details of people in your community).
Banks and credit agencies have long been collecting more data than consumers realize. Some boundary pushing services still make me uncomfortable.
National Geographic is one of the few publications that I think I would miss if it was only available online. Not sure why.
Most magazines can be read in bits and pieces, flipping through until I discover something of relevance.
With National Geographic, I find almost every article interesting. And the photography is not too shabby.
Reading online does not have an end. I read until I am bored.
With Geographic, I enjoy the experience and the satisfaction of knowing I have read the last page. How very 1980's of me.
The most recent issue has an intriguing article on bionics.
Bionics today are no longer additions to the human body, but rather integration with:
"Kitts is one of "tomorrow's people," a group whose missing or ruined body parts are being replaced by devices embedded in their nervous systems that respond to commands from their brains. The machines they use are called neural prostheses…"
Mixed reaction to Google's announcement that it may pull out of the Chinese market:
These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered - combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web - have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China.
We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all.
We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.
Some suggest that the motive is not ideological, but rather business-driven.
Others - like Ethan Zuckerman - are more nuanced in their analysis by exploring multiple scenarios that influenced Google's decision.
And on still others suggest the move will "realign Google's business with its ethos". This is one of those moments where I am less concerned about motivations and more interested in the action.
Whether for good motives or ill, censorship issues in China have surfaced with at least one organization adopting a "non-compliance" approach to filtering.
In the larger scheme of China, privacy, rights, and openness, it is a small step (potential) step forward.
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 -
Hybrid Education - Helder Almeida
Privacy - ktsdesign
Bionics - Antonis Papantoniou