Wondering what's happening between social software and academics? If you were to read some of the opinions expressed in the press, you wouldn't bet a dime on these new tools to become a future staple of learning evolution. General message: "it's bad. Very bad. We must control it. But we can't." .
Photo credit: Jason Rhode
The issue is one of human nature, not technologies. Those good old Greeks promoted individual virtue as the basis of a healthy society. You won't change human nature by blocking Facebook. What's next, monitor conversation on the campus bar on Friday nights? Facebook and social technologies are a mirror. The reflect humanity as much as they shape it. It is only up to you and me how we use and apply their abilities and features.
Once again the answer from George Siemens, educational technologies expert, is to use "common sense" when evaluating the effectiveness of the possibilities of the new social software. "Facebook and social technologies are a mirror. They reflect humanity as much as they shape it." (Source: George Siemens)
If you are into learning, into understanding more of what new technologies and media are transforming, this weekly digest takes you to places, facts and resources that help you make greater sense of what is really changing and of the increasing relevance and impact new technologies and media are having on the educational landscape.
Intro by Daniele Bazzano
learning, networks, knowledge, technology, trends
by George Siemens
Observing how journalists, marketers, and others communicate their messages can offer insights for educators. Have a look at this article on Unconventional Marketing. Instead of a large linear marketing campaign, a series of smaller, iterative steps are suggested, permitted adaptation based on feedback from the system.
Education isn't that different. The "plan it all in advance" model - moving from outcomes to teaching to assessment - may be better handled through small steps and revisions. The diagram in the article captures the shift from linear to iterative nicely.
Why is open data important? Well, for starters, data has limited value. It's what we do with data that generates value. When we open the stuff that has limited value, we open a door to numerous creative innovations. If we lock the data down, those opportunities for creativity don't materialize.
Tony Hirst has been playing around with an interesting approach to repurposing data in ways that most people wouldn't imagine. Have a look at data scraping wikipedia with Google spreadsheets. It's a bit technical at stages. But it's a great example of creativity driven by openness.
The focus is not purely on education, but Microblogging Tools for your Newsroom is worth a review.
Organizations, distributed teams and networks will likely find some of the tools interesting. Usually microblogging refers to twitter, but in this case, the author looks at tools that are used for a particular purpose - such as informal project management, backchannel, etc.
It's important for universities to be aware of social network software and potential dangers they contain. It's also important for universities to use something called "common sense".
The wild web provides a mildly depressing look at what's happening in universities in social software. General message: "it's bad. Very bad. We must control it. But we can't." Take any part of this article, and where social networks are blamed, replace the term with "pub" or "workplace" or "coffee shop".
The issue is one of human nature, not technologies. Those good old Greeks promoted individual virtue as the basis of a healthy society. You won't change human nature by blocking Facebook. What's next, monitor conversation on the campus bar on Friday nights? Facebook and social technologies are a mirror. The reflect humanity as much as they shape it.
My colleague at the University of Manitoba - Peter Tittenberger - presented a keynote this week at the International Arab Conference of eTechnology... his slides are available: Elearning: Promises and Promises. The content may be familiar to many edubloggers, but the sequencing and integration of ideas (including a novel new peer review process) are worth the time to view.
What are memories? How are they stored in our brains? What occurs when we try and recall events? Or, for that matter, what happens when we have a failure to recall?
While much of what we think we know about the brain is based in speculation (or observing phenomena and creating hypothesis about what is happening, yet lacking the ability to validate due to the difficulties of researching a still live brain), we're in an era of exciting research. Much like the 20th century brought many insights into diseases, treatments, and vaccines, the ongoing sophistication of technology enables researchers to confirm (or disprove) what used to exist as assumptions.
"The mystery of what happens in our brains when we remember something is fascinating not only from a scientific perspective but also because the experience of recall can be so, well, memorable. Thinking backwards we become sensory time travellers; recalling sights, sounds, events, emotions - all in the blink of an eye. But what happens in our brains when we travel backwards..?
This study provides strong evidence that memory works through the reactivation of specific individual neurons in the hippocampus. Effectively things that happen to us activate networks of neurons in the brain, and when we recall past events at least some of these same neurons fire again."
"The bottom line is, when older people read a simulated book page, we see areas of the brain activated that you'd expect, the visual cortex, and areas that control language and reading," he said. "When they search on the Internet, they use the same areas, but there was much greater activation particularly in the front part, which controls decision-making and complex reasoning. But it was only for the people who had previous experience with the Internet."
This study seems full of weaknesses - which might be due to the lack of information provided in the article.
For example, the study looks at how people from two groups (one with technology experience and one without) experience online search. Those with experience have, as quoted above, greater activation in the region of the brain that governs decision-making. Well, that's nice. But what does that actually tell us? To me, it seems to indicate that experience with something results in greater activation of areas of the brain that are involved in the process. Would we have seen similar results if we were evaluating brain activation in amateur vs. experienced chess players?
Can't say I quite follow the leap to Google and online searching being good for our brains. I'm sure many educators (parents) wish it to be true: "Look, little Johnny is searching on Google. He's getting to be so smart".
If you're interested in the program, registration / contact information is available toward the end of the page.
The course content will be freely available for participants who are not enrolled. At this point, I'm not sure how many courses will be delivered under an open teaching model. That will generally depend who is teaching the course with me and if they have interest in open teaching (at least in situations where I'm co-teaching).
Traditional certificate programs are too silo'd (something I tried to address with the first iteration of the program - COBL). Many learning opportunities are lost when our dialogue is confined to only those learners in our current course rather than across the whole program. We will hold program-wide weekly discussions for enrolled learners, as well as monthly guest speakers to increase connectedness and integration of concepts across silos.
Unconventional Marketing - Funny Junk
Data Scraping Wikipedia With Google Spreadsheets - Psychemedia
Microblogging Tools For Your Newsroom - Richard Barley
The Wild Web - Sascha Burkard
New Memories... - 21st Century Digital
Google Does A Brain Good - Sebastian Kaulitzki edited by Daniele Bazzano
Certificate in Emerging Technologies For Learning - Marc Dietrich
About the author
To learn more about George Siemens and to access extensive information and resources on elearning check out www.elearnspace.org. Explore also George Siemens connectivism site for resources on the changing nature of learning and check out his new book "Knowing Knowledge".George Siemens -