How do you make sense of the huge quantity of the increasing amount of fragmented, separate, granular information you're exposed to when learning?
George Siemens - Photo credit: Terri Brown
"We make sense personally. No one makes sense for us." If you just rely on educational and academic institutions to make sense of the issues you're keenly interested into, you may be following the wrong path.
Educational technologies expert George Siemens strongly advocates a personal, individual learning path freed form academic restraints. More often than not, such institutions have become indoctrinating labs more than the ideal settings to question, experiment and evaluate information under many different lights.
Beliefs should not be accepted just "as they are", but rather being the output of personal analysis and inquiry, and possibly of a collaborative research and knowledge-sharing process.
If you're looking for a more critical approach to making sense of how new technologies and media are affecting the way we learn, study and work, this weekly digest may help you recognize the forest from the trees.
Intro by Daniele Bazzano
learning, networks, knowledge, technology, trends
by George Siemens
A few months ago, I posted a link to the upcoming Corporate Learning: Trends and Innovations conference Tony Karrer, Jay Cross, and I are organizing. We now have a list of speakers posted on the site. If you'd like to be kept informed, please sign up. The conference is no charge, fully online, and runs from November 17-21.
Most educators have been told, during the completion of their degrees, that learning starts with objectives or outcomes. Then, often relying on a Bloom's Taxonomy verb list, those outcomes are translated into activities and ultimately assessment.
It's an ok model, I guess. I just don't like it.
I have yet to find research that states that learning outcomes contribute to more effective learning (if you know of research on the subject, please let me know). I'm not advocating for disorganized approaches to teaching and learning. Some organization is obviously required. But we can organize without wearing and educational theory straight jacket. As Dean Shareski states in I’m sure I’m doing it wrong: "Simple. Meaningful. Necessary. Education has become very good at making the simple very complex. That just seems wrong to me."
This afternoon, I presented to a group of masters / phd students on the potentially transformative impact of technology on how we teach and learn. The age of grand narratives - or even narratives of coherence - have given way to fragmentary information and interactions.
Instead of making sense of the world through a grand narrative provided by others, each person has the potential to make sense of the world according a personal context narrative.
The fragmentation of information influences society in more levels than media and news - education is feeling the effects as well (note the development of open educational resources and open teaching). And the financial field is also experience some (though limited) pressure for change through services / sites based on social lending.
Whether you agree or disagree with this post, it's worth thinking about: Thoughts on “learning spaces” presentation:
"You know why a student would prefer to look at a picture or watch a video? Because it’s way easier than reading something that would nearly always be more informative about the subject at hand. You know why a student would be more interested in producing, say, a video than writing a paper? Because writing well is DIFFICULT and it’s far easier to gloss up poor research by packaging it in a video format that appears to involve a lot of work.
Yes, older people who think that games, social networks, collaborative learning environments, and the creation audiovisual mashups are the future of education, the basic message I’m sending here is that young students don’t want to learn, they want to play, and presentations like the one I saw today essentially seem to be saying that we need to support this play (masked as educational needs) as much as possible in order to try to get some learning in there."
I spend more time in airports and airplanes than I would ideally like.
Multi-hour layovers are good opportunities to catch up on email, read, write, and ponder how this complex structure of global air travel operates. Think of the enormous difficulty in scheduling flights, maintaining airplanes, customer interactions, and so on. What's the nature of training and development in this industry? Obviously formal education (such as for mechanics and pilots) and continual ongoing training due to new procedures, regulations, and economic circumstances.
I'd love to get a better handle on how the airline industry meets its multiple challenges through it training and development departments (and how it strategically ties the use of technology to organizational goals).
WSJ looks at the complexities of scheduling for Southwest. How did it innovate its scheduling practices to reduce costs / improve efficiency? Did consultants provide the solution? Nah. Innovation occurred on a home computer by an employee - saving the airline millions of dollars. How do organizations foster and recognize that type of innovation and creativity?
Britannica is hosting a discussion on Brave New Classroom 2.0. It sounds like discussions we were having in 1999 about whether technology was effective in classrooms (oh, and remember the "no significant difference" discussion?).
Countries like India are not asking "is technology effective?". They are using it because it's the only way to meet the learning needs of their population (note their goal of offering 40% of higher education via distance (which suggests the use of technology)). We're asking "is it?". They're asking "how".
With that said, Britannica has put together a good list of presenters who will likely be able to redeem a poorly conceived and outdated discussion topic.
This post reads like wishful thinking from someone who has not yet been able to come to grips with the time-destroying joys of online noise and, instead of modifying his behaviour, has decided to turn vices into virtues :) - Is online noise really bad for you?:
"Quiet time, time off-line, deep thoughts and long books are all beautiful things - essential to a healthy intellectual, psychological and social life.
We argue, though, that the opposite of all those things - online social media noise, is also a great opportunity that deserves to have its worth recognized at a time in history when many of us are struggling to deal with it."
"Today, I often no longer have to rely on someone else’s account of your past behavior: I can see for myself.
In a world in which all action is recorded, is there still need for reputation information? If I can see the events of the past for myself, is getting other people’s potentially biased and self-serving opinions about it worth anything? Or, has reputation become obsolete?"
The question of the obsolescence of reputation is provocative. Maybe I'm unusually dense today, but I don't fully follow the author's argument.
It's not reputation that's obsolete.
Closed reputation, accessible only under certain restrictions (usually monetary or some type of privilege), is increasingly obsolete.
Reputation is open due to online participation. People can read what our views were 5 or 10 years ago. They can evaluate us by our behaviour in other forums. Reputation still remains as an important way to understand other people.
This - Peer 2 Peer University - is one of those concepts that I would love to strongly endorse as a step in a different direction from traditional universities. It reflects much of what I write about on this site (parts of the proposed document read very much like my post on content, conversation, and accreditation).
Yet, as I reviewed the site, I find myself in disagreement with certain elements.
I like the approach of openness (it's hard to argue otherwise, especially in education where we can open doors to more hopeful futures simply through providing access to learning opportunities).
I like the view of shorter courses.
I like the grassroots "we had a good idea and did something about it" approach. I also like the participatory design of learning.
What do I disagree with? I disagree with the notion of "sense makers".
We make sense personally. No one makes sense for us.
I'm also somewhat unsure of the formality of this approach. It bears within it too much of the existing university model. Why centralize things? The only thing we really need to centralize is the accreditation (i.e. open accreditation).
Who really cares where or how people "got their learning"? Use existing networks of learning opportunities.
This is P2P University administered through centralized models (which, then means, it's not really P2P). I love the concept. I like the vision. I don't like the execution. It's foreplay when we need consummation.
In the absence of good data or research results, thinking (even uncommon common sense) can prove to be surprisingly valuable.
Researchers are suggesting that a good portion of research is wrong (of course, the researchers making this statement overlook the irony of a similar critique leveled at their own theory).
From the article:
"Dr Ioannidis based his earlier argument about incorrect research partly on a study of 49 papers in leading journals that had been cited by more than 1,000 other scientists. They were, in other words, well-regarded research. But he found that, within only a few years, almost a third of the papers had been refuted by other studies.
For the idea of the winner’s curse to hold, papers published in less-well-known journals should be more reliable; but that has not yet been established.
The group’s more general argument is that scientific research is so difficult — the sample sizes must be big and the analysis rigorous — that most research may end up being wrong. And the “hotter” the field, the greater the competition is and the more likely it is that published research in top journals could be wrong."
As information and knowledge continue to develop more rapidly (note the rising contributions of China to scientific journals in relation to EU and US), research results will continue to be best viewed with an understanding that "it's all in a state of flux".
Corporate Learning: Trends and Innovations - Learn Trends
I’m Sure I’m Doing It Wrong - Pavel Losevsky
Social Lending - Pathathai Chungyam
Airline Scheduling - Xiao Fang Hu
Britannica and 1999 - 5min Blog
Is Online Noise Really Bad For You? - Artsem Martysiuk
Is Reputation Obsolete? - pblscooter
Peer 2 Peer University - Riverside Community College
Publish and Be Wrong - Kirill Zdorov
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 -