"Media literacy" is increasingly the keyword to which I attribute the greatest importance when it comes to become effective trainers, online communicators as well as effective and successful entrepreneurs of yourselves. Understanding, to the very root, what communication means, how we do it, what reality and consensus are, is as essential as knowing how to browse or how to bookmark a site.
Photo credit: Bruce Rolff
Those who have not spent time understanding the deep roots of communication, from the interpersonal level to the mass media universe, are going always to be succumbing to those who not only know how to use the tools, but have spent serious time learning what are the mechanisms and components that produce effective communication in any situation.
George Siemens, connectivism guru and respected scholar of the effective use of educational technologies and social media, takes you in this weekly digest to places, writings and people that can help you explore, chart and understand these critical grounds in a serendipitous, explorative fashion. My personal advice is to follow George in his wanderings as the pointers and resources he shares are always of the greatest value.
Here what he has found this week:
Intro by Robin Good
Doug Belshaw applies his usual critical and thoughtful perspectives as he shares Ed. D. thesis proposal on What does it mean to be digitally literate?:
"To have some clarity as to what it means to be ‘digitally literate’ will help move on the debates taking place at all levels in the western education system...Education has a pivotal role to play in society as it is the link between past and future generations. In the past this link has been relatively easy to achieve, as the knowledge and skills useful to acquire would vary only slightly within a generation. In the brave new world of digital technology, however, fundamental shifts in required knowledge skill sets and knowledge can occur several times within a generation."
I'm looking forward to seeing more of Doug's work. It is an important area that requires exploration beyond the hype and cute catch-phrases that currently define much of the conversation on digital literacies.
An interesting view on our increased fragmentation - Endless Conversation: The Unfolding Saga of Blogs, Twitter, Friendfeed, and Social Sites:
"The challenge today is that while the size of individual contributions to online conversations is getting smaller, the frequency of conversations are increasing on these new social media platforms."
I maintain that while we are currently getting very good at fragmenting our ideas, our identities, our relationships, and our conversations, the real value arises in seeing how the pieces fit.
We haven't had as much innovation in "pulling pieces together" as we have in fragmenting them. Sure, we have sites like Friendfeed, PageFlakes, Netvibes, and others, but they have so far adopted a fairly unoriginal approach to making sense of our distributed selves.
Bringing pieces together involves more than bringing them together (ok, that likely doesn't sound sensible, but it is).
Tools that make sense of fragmentation need to provide visualization, unknown connections between elements, peripheral elements of potential interest, history of our own behaviour, etc. I just haven't seen much that excites me in this area yet.
An axiomatic statement in concept, but often ignored in our online habits Our Data, Ourselves: "Who controls our data controls our lives...Our data is a part of us. It's intimate and personal, and we have basic rights to it. It should be protected from unwanted touch".
As far as I'm concerned, not many statements are more obvious and more likely to result in universal head nodding.
But for some reason, we are allowing sites and applications online to handle our data in almost abusive manner while we use their "free" tools. Not all costs of use are economic, but all data can be used for economic purposes by someone.
Seb Schmoller has compiled a short list on what to advise a student about using the Web. The list is a good starting point for educators who are trying to improve their own use of the web (after all, we need to become somewhat competent with the tools before we expect to model use for learners).
Photo credit: Ken Bennett
Neuroscience research is opening new doors every day. Some have declared this the century of the brain, indicating a highly optimistic view of what we will discover about ourselves as we move forward. In very few areas are we finding a blurring of corporate interests and research as significant as in the neurotech field.
The Ultimate Cure offers insight into the current state of this emerging field. While a great deal of research suggests we'll find cures to many of the brain-based problems now common in society, this report illustrates the prominence of business-oriented interests driving the speculation.
I'm comfortable (but only marginally so - our understanding trails behind technology) with research driven by scientist's and society's desire to push back boundaries of what we know. But, when neuroscience becomes a market-based speculation, we are asking for infractions, violations, and ethical infractions. Neurotech research (via Mind Hacks)
I'm in Saskatoon at the TLt Summit. I presented last night on Education: An ecology of connections. Great work on the part of the conference organizers in putting together what looks like a great conference (a sell out at 600 attendees) - Alan November is speaking today, Stephen Downes tomorrow. The concurrent sessions are a challenge - too many good options.
Unlike blogs - which, when public, seem to appeal to a certain personality type - everyone is a potential contributor to a wiki. Terms and concepts are currently blurring as learning management systems are adopting the functionality of blogs and wikis, Google Docs seems more like a ramped up wiki than a word processor, etc. This short article - Sage Advice on Wiki Adoption - provides an important perspective: start with small pilot groups and let things unfold. To mandate is to kill a wiki project. I could, however, do without the term "go viral". It no longer means anything. And it's so 2006.
Microsoft's WorldWide Telescope is now available. I haven't had a chance to download it (I'm on a back up laptop as my still new Dell is undergoing repairs for hardware failure - I try to whine about this in every forum I can). Comments and reviews have generally been favorable. As with the Google Earth, this is likely to be an important resource for teachers to add a greater sense of realness to subject matter often taught with grainy videos and text.
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 -