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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Media Literacy: Making Sense Of New Technologies And Media by George Siemens - Aug 30 08

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What will look like education in the future? Are we going to see a revolution in the education system we have built in the last 100 years or a dissolution of the same as new approaches to education and learning slowly contaminate our fast changing society?

Photo credit: Stephen Downes

AsGeorge Siemens writes: "...don't focus on the tools and the direct application of the tools. Focus on what the tools allow us to do better and then find a way to implement that functionality...". And indeed an increasingly larger number of people are enthused and hypnotized by cool new tools that new media technologies keep making available.

What is increasingly lacking is a conscious ability to look at the overall picture, to understand better the role of these tools and to start distinguishing the the forest from the trees.

In this weekly digest devoted to making sense of new technologies and media, George Siemens takes you once again into a fascinating journey into the issues, technologies and topics that offer a good opportunity to further think and understand where to use them and how, though them, make this a better place for everyone.


eLearning Resources and News

learning, networks, knowledge, technology, trends

by George Siemens

New Article: Systemic Impact Of Connective Knowledge, Connectivism, and Networked Learning


Most often, I don't finalize a presentation until just before the conference. The world has a habit of changing frequently. For an upcoming conference in Portugal, however, I was asked to submit a paper in advance.

If you're interested: New spaces and structures of learning: the systemic impact of connective knowledge, connectivism, and networked learning (MS Word file).

In this article, I suggest that the developments of technology and social learning theory are creating a sequence of change pressures that will alter traditional education. In particular, I try and answer: what will education look like in the future?

Enterprise 2.0 and Web 2.0


I'll take a brief respite from my usual dismissal of all things 2.0 to highlight a nice article by Thomas Vander Wal: Tale of Two Tunnels:

"The difference between Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 is like the difference building a tunnel through rock and tunnel under water...

The Enterprise 2.0 tunnel is built under water. This takes more engineering understanding, but it also requires more fault testing and assurances. A crack or crumbling of a tool inside an organization is not seen kindly and raises doubts around the viability of the tool...

Web 2.0 does not work well in enterprise, but the approaches and understandings of Web 2.0 modified for enterprise work really well."

There is value in this for educators. I frequently hear reasons about why we can't implement blogs, wikis, Second Life, and social networking services in education... security, we can't control it, they're just playing (instead of learning), and so on.

I've been emphasizing a shift similar to Vander Wal's: don't focus on the tools and the direct application of the tools. Focus on what the tools allow us to do better and then find a way to implement that functionality in an organization. Should all grade 3 students have a blog on blogspot? Or videos on youtube? No. But all students in grade 3 should be communicating with others (preferably from around the world), expressing themselves in creative ways, co-creating with peers, and interacting with media and technology. Don't let the tools be used as a scapegoat for inertia.

Time For A Data Diet?


The best place to be an author or consultant these days has to be the field of personal productivity. Who isn't overwhelmed these days? Information Overload: Time for a data diet? looks at the problem: "The river of content is turning into a flood, and my instinct is to get to higher ground."

Two main solutions are presented: turn to technology (relying on RSS/web feeds to bring info together)... and stepping away from the internet.

The first solution makes sense. The second... I don't know... it seems like we are getting more tethered to the internet through smart phones.

The solution to overload is twofold:

  • New tools and techniques for managing what we want to track

  • a new mindset - one that accepts always being behind, always learning, always missing something. And that's the way everyone else is. And that's ok.

Internet Populations In Europe


Sure, China gets all the attention for having the largest internet population. But don't overlook the internet population in Europe, with countries like Russia, France, Spain, and Denmark reporting double digit growth. Netherlands has 82% of the population connected to the internet.

In spite of significant growth of internet access, online learning is still poorly utilized. In several recent discussions, the aversion to the internet as a teaching/learning tool have been highlighted. The question for me is no longer "is online learning as effective as classroom learning". Rather, I'm asking "what better option do we have to meet current learning needs at a reasonable expense (of time and money)?"

OER Handbook

media literacy_george_siemens_Recyclethis.jpg

Open educational resources (OER) continue to gain significant popularity. It's an exciting space. Lots happening: pen text book publishers, OER wikis, handbooks and tutorials, etc.

Just came across this: OER Handbook. It is a useful starter resource for academics that are new to the space. It was an interesting experience reading the book. Perhaps because I read it online, I didn't see any mention of authors (until the end). I assumed that the book was written via a wiki. And I found it distracting. I like reading the work of individuals, not organizations. I wonder why...

The book widely references many of the key developments (Downes is reference about a dozen times, which is good to see). I was disappointed to not encounter any reference to mine and Downes' work on open education from about five or six years ago. While the project fizzled, I think it was one of the first attempts to pull together numerous projects, educators, and set some type of path forward collaboratively (rather than the current top-down direction from foundations and governments). At least give us a footnote :).

Got A Minute?

If you're reading this in an RSS aggregator like Google Reader, this post will be redundant. But, if you're reading this on the site or newsletter, take a look at this one minute presentation on Google Reader. It's a great overview to RSS (or web feeds) in general.

Digital Natives


Last November, Chris Lott and I had a somewhat energetic chat on the whole concept of digital natives. I felt (and still do) that the term is not useful. Chris argued that the term is useful as a means of dialoguing about change and awakening educators to the impact of technology. It's a good argument.

The term is not valuable in what it describes, but is important in how it permits us to interact with each other and talk about changes. Apophenia's discussion of digital natives is aligned with Chris' argument:

"Academics tend to err on the side of nuance and precision, eschewing generalizations and coarse labels. This is great for documenting cultural dynamics, but not so great for making interventions.

Creating an impression, an image in the minds of those who are fearful requires more than accurate data. It requires a compelling story and a framework that can replace the boogie monster... Combating pre-existing images requires more than accuracy, more than nuance. It requires either a new more-sticky image or a reworking of the original image."

The Secrets Of Storytelling: Why We Love A Good Yarn


We (as in humanity) often view ourselves as being logical. We spend much time in philosophy classes debating the nature of logic, playing with logic tables, and generally convincing ourselves that what defines us as humans is our ability to explore concepts and ideas through a framework of logic. After, isn't the scientific method a testament to the power of a logical framework to banish myth and superstition?

While logic certainly is a large part of who we are, most of us are moved more by stories than by logic. Bambi, for example, did more to raise awareness about hunting than did studies and logical arguments.

Political leaders aren't elected because they are the best or most competent, but rather because of their ability to translate a meaningful world view (through narrative and story) that resonates with what we aspire to be.

And advertisers, well, let's not get into the latest Axe or Budweiser commercials. Regardless of how far-fetched and at times comical an advertising message is, something in a story stirs us.

The Secrets of Storytelling: Why We Love a Good Yarn tackles why stories have such power over people:

"Psychologists and neuroscientists have recently become fascinated by the human predilection for storytelling. Why does our brain seem to be wired to enjoy stories? And how do the emotional and cognitive effects of a narrative influence our beliefs and real-world decisions?

The answers to these questions seem to be rooted in our history as a social animal. We tell stories about other people and for other people. Stories help us to keep tabs on what is happening in our communities. The safe, imaginary world of a story may be a kind of training ground, where we can practice interacting with others and learn the customs and rules of society. And stories have a unique power to persuade and motivate, because they appeal to our emotions and capacity for empathy."

Whatever Happened To Performance Support


Jay Cross digs through training and development's closet and asks: Whatever happened to performance support? He explores the roots of performance support, its rapid rise, and then apparent disappearance. It's a good, quick read into one of the concepts within training and development that holds much promise and, on the surface at least, appears to have failed to reach its potential.

Interview With Robin Good

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by of MasterNewMedia. The video of our discussion is now available.

The conversation was somewhat diverse in topics, ranging from learning, trends, and the role of schools. Robin asked a series of excellent questions on the role of schools - at the secondary level - that I did a particularly poor job of addressing coherently. But I enjoyed the conversation... Robin's passion and energy come through very clearly in the interview!

Photo credits:
New Article: Systemic Impact Of Connective Knowledge, Connectivism, and Networked Learning - George Siemens
Enterprise 2.0 And Web 2.0 - Goam Media
Time For A Data Diet? - Marc Dietrich
Internet Populations In Europe - Hotrec
OER Handbook - WikiEducator
Digital Natives - Born Digital
The Secrets Of Storytelling: Why We Love A Good Yarn - Monika Adamczyk
Whatever Happened To Performance Support - H3C

Originally written by George Siemens for elearnspace and first published on August 28th 2008 as weekly email digest on eLearning Resources and News.

About the author

To learn more about George Siemens and to access extensive information and resources on elearning check out Explore also George Siemens connectivism site for resources on the changing nature of learning and check out his new book "Knowing Knowledge".

George Siemens -
Reference: eLearnSpace [ Read more ]
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posted by Daniele Bazzano on Saturday, August 30 2008, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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