Helping others see what you are talking about can be a powerful communication advantage, and understanding how visuals and images work can make all of the difference in the world in achieving it. This and many others interesting insights, at the convergence point of media, technology, communication and learning is one of the many gems George Siemens' brings back in this column.
Photo credit: Kts Design
Major points inside this weekly "Making Sense" update include:
a) Major trends and the future outlook for education and technology in the recently released Horizon Report.
b) Fast food diplomas are coming to the UK, but will they do more harm than good?
c) The EDUCAUSE conference started this week, and made available many new resources and insights to the public.
by George Siemens
Photo credit: Meryl Evans
With the concept of visualization still fresh in my thinking, I encountered two excellent resources on visual thinking:
Photo credit: Miroslav Sárička
Mobile phones - which significantly outsell computers annually - are becoming a critical focus for technology companies (and, less intensely, for educators).
A panel at Davos, with corporate leaders, details the intent of many to create an advertising model around mobile phones (how long until access is free, but ad-supported, like Google's search model?).
"We don’t have to use cell phones to help students cultivate their capacities for ethical decision-making and become actively engaged in their own learning journeys, but I think cell phones can be extremely useful tools if we want to pursue those pedagogic goals together."
Photo credit: Alan Fong
Most of what we define as data or information is what we explicitly create or gather.
For example, if I write an article or contribute to a wiki, the resulting information is intentional and a result of active work on my part. When a scientist discovers a cure to a disease, or a new drug to treat or reduce symptoms, the information is again a consequence of intent.
Our conversations are similar - we are active, intentional creators of data (I'll call this first tier information). But we create a second kind of information on a daily basis.
Second tier information is a by-product of what we do - our actions and our choices. We are largely not aware of this information. It's difficult to capture - unless we are hyper self-aware or we are being stalked.
This information used to vaporize as it was not embodied in text, images, or any other conceptual or physical product. That's changing. Facebook - with its Beacon program - follows us and observes our choices, essentially turning our transient information into first tier information.
This is a significant development; one that has enormous future implications in privacy and the rights of citizens and corporations.
Similar concerns exist with RFID tags and microchips. While RFID tags have substantial opportunities for information aware environments, and a globally connected world of objects, the gleaning of our second tier information by organizations for use in marketing (or tracking) is worrying.
The report is a valuable resource for administrators, academic leaders, and educators to gain a broad perspective of dominant trends within education and technology. In a sense, it's a report that reaches beyond the some what densely connected small world of edubloggers and early adopters to engage the larger society.
EDUCAUSE (ELI's) annual meeting in San Antonio has been a great experience. Had the opportunity to meet many of my favorite bloggers Gardner Campbell, Brian Lamb, Bryan Alexander, Alan Levine, Barbara Ganley, and others.
Over the last few years, EDUCAUSE has been making more of their resources freely available to educators - including ECAR research, 7 Things You Should Know, and conference proceedings.
From this year's event, the following podcasts/recordings are available (with more to be added soon):
Photo credit: Lioness65
Multitasking gets lots of attention... but true multi-tasking doesn't exist (rapid task switching may leave the impression of multi-tasking).
A recent paper addresses this concept - The Autumn of Multitaskers:
"Multitasking messes with the brain in several ways.
At the most basic level, the mental balancing acts that it requires—the constant switching and pivoting—energize regions of the brain that specialize in visual processing and physical coordination and simultaneously appear to shortchange some of the higher areas related to memory and learning.
We concentrate on the act of concentration at the expense of whatever it is that we’re supposed to be concentrating on."
Photo credit: Diana and Zenh
With much controversy, deriding, ridicule, and some approval, UK has granted several large corporations (including McDonald's) "the power to award the equivalent of advanced high-school qualifications" (see Would you like a diploma with those fries? and Graham Atwell's commentary).
I don't think this is what most of us have in mind when we talk about expanding the classroom and seeking a more practical focus for education.
On the surface, I like the idea, and suspect changes to accreditation will force many educators to rethink teaching/learning. After all, McDonald's is exemplifying real world training and practical hands on activities. It's authentic learning at its most authentic. I'm quite comfortable with those aspects.
But, I'm less sure about the prudence of corporations granting equivalence diplomas. As various commentators have noted, education is a coming of age surrounded by the experience of critical thinking, ethics, morals, debates, and friendships... with the intent being to nurture the mindsets required for individuals to participate fully in society.
I'm conflicted on this issue. I like the concept. I don't like the implementation.
Photo credit: George Siemens
I'm at EDUCAUSE in San Antonio. I've had the opportunity to watch a cattle drive, watch the San Antonio Spurs get severely embarrassed, walk (miles and miles) on the beautiful River Walk, and, of course, enjoy the local cuisine.
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 -