Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Media Literacy: Making Sense Of New Technologies And Media by George Siemens - Nov 29 08

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Is our worldwide education system ready to prepare for the unpredictability and fast changes that the 21st century will be serving?

Photo credit: Elizabeth Hanson-Smith

Education isn't only about creating employees. It's about empowering individuals to become individuals with the ability to manage effectively the increasingly faster transformations of a complex world like ours.

This is why, one should measure education by looking at how tangibly such goal is achieved rather than by measuring the number of tested and certified students the school system is capable of producing. True education, when successful, must essentially prepare its students for dealing with greater and more complex problems. But not those served in a neat and sanitized math test, but rather those emerging from the clash of the multidisciplinary realities we inhabit.

Learning how to handle uncertainty, as well as how to rapidly adapt to fast changing environments is the real blockbuster formula to an education approach that provides the mental tools to cope with whatever can come your way, rather than pre-emptying you with static notions and arid, reality-isolated formulas..


eLearning Resources and News

learning, networks, knowledge, technology, trends

by George Siemens


Connectivism: Networked Learner


Over the last 12 weeks, Stephen Downes and I have facilitated a course on Connectivism and Connective Knowledge. The final "project" for enrolled participants is to reflect on the quality of their own learning networks.

Wendy Drexler has posted a video of her final project that is (deservedly) getting significant attention: Connectivism: Networked Learner (also available on YouTube)


Definition of Emerging Technologies for Learning


I received an email recently asking for my definition of emerging technologies for learning. To enlarge the conversation, I asked the question on Twitter. The following are responses:

  • Eduinnovation: "Those technologies that allow learners to connect, collaborate, and create with other learners, mind-to-mind, anywhere & anytime"
  • prawsthorne: "an innovation that captures attention, engages and deepens learning so the learner/teacher can self-measure the improvement."
  • MarkMilliron: "any technology YOU don't quite understand that you've heard might improve teaching and learning"
  • UNMVCTLC: "using technology TOOLS to improve the learning process while enhancing the instructional environment" and "using those tools that are not fully explored to reach new frontiers in methodology, experiences and concepts"
  • jdwilliams: "I think emerging (web) technologies are just sites/apps my district hasn't found to block (yet)"
  • Darren Draper: "Emerging technologies for teaching and learning consist of all hardware, software, concepts, and ideas that can be employed to advance social, connective, and educational processes"
  • davecormier: "usually defined as - stuff George likes - I believe"
  • bengrey: "A body of knowledge or innovation not yet widely adapted or fully actualized which holds educational implications"
  • StonyRiver: "New Direction Learning Technologies"

How do you define emerging technologies for learning (or is the attempt to provide a definition sooo web 1.0?)?


Social Computing


Dave Snowden is well-known in the knowledge management field. He has been kind enough in the past to present to online conferences that we have hosted at University of Manitoba (most recently, our Future of Education conference). Over the last few years, his writings / presentations have taken a turn that very much fits in with concepts presented in this forum and in CCK08.

Dave started blogging about two years ago, but I've been following his work through his publications and contributions to ACT-KM. I could be imagining things, but his shift to blogging seems to coincide with his increased attention to the fragmentary nature of information.

Distributed conversations, not packaged as they have been in the past through frameworks such as articles and books, in blogs provide an interesting experience in personal sensemaking.

In a recent presentation (.pdf of slides - why not slideshare?... podcast is here), Dave details seven principles of KM, including: "Tolerated failure imprints learning better than success."


Visualizing Data

Click the image to go to the interface page

OECD has been learning from Hans Rosling and Gapminder. In order to make their data more accessible, they've created (or had someone create) an application for visualizing data.

I personally prefer gapminder's interface, but OECD's contribution is appreciated. If data is made more accessible it will be used more often as a guide for decision making (he says in his most idealistic voice).


Microsoft's Personal Reboot: Web-Centric, But Beyond "The Cloud"


Microsoft has been a favorite source of mockery for all the cool web 2.0′ers.

Microsoft is seen as too closed, too confined to the desktop, too late to search, and too out of touch with how people want to compute. In the face of this criticism, Microsoft continues to attempt a transformation - Personal Reboot: Web-Centric, But Beyond "The Cloud":

"Cloud computing may be trendy, but Ozzie says MSFT's best course moving forward is a hybrid desktop/Web-based strategy... future success hinges on new products that win over the masses instantly."


Education Needs to Be Pulled Into The 21st Century


Short rant. Articles like - Education needs to be pulled into the 21st century - cause many educators to smile and nod in agreement.

The report broadly splashes all the latest and coolest terms that cause sensible educators to viciously agree:

"In an increasingly complex and competitive world, teachers must understand technology and connect coursework to the global economy, curricula should eliminate less relevant material and incorporate modern skills such as global awareness, technology and media literacy, and standardized tests must include these new subjects".

Ok. That's very nice. We are then treated with the typical mis-focused comment: "I hope to encourage policymakers to better equip our graduates for today's and tomorrow's jobs".

Education isn't only about creating employees. It's about assisting individuals to develop into the types of people that can tackle and handle the continual gyrations of a complex world. I don't buy into the "education must prepare people for jobs that don't yet exist" view. Education - as it always has - must prepare people for an unknown future. This isn't new.

When I was going to school, the particular job that I have today did not exist. How should we prepare people for, let's say, the current financial crisis? By training people to be stockbrokers? No. You can't prepare people for black swans. People must be capable of handling uncertainty, but also adapting as environments shift and change.

At its most basic, education must move from epistemology to ontology. Getting back to the report: give us something useful. Statements as broad as those provided in the article (i.e. "develop new programs, standards, partnerships and assessment measures") are hardly a basis for action. Perhaps it's time that we stop focusing on what our curriculum is and start focusing on how we actually do curriculum in the first place.


Systems for Supportive Open Teaching


We've experienced this in CCK08: Systems for Supportive Open Teaching:

"I think it more valuable to think about how openness changes the basic praxis of teaching from an essentially individual activity to a shared activity."

But, as we've discovered, openness may produced shared activity at some levels (students helping each other, taking on leadership roles, connecting to others outside of the course, etc). Open teaching is really best seen as open learning. When we learn in transparent ways, we become teachers. But not everyone wants to learn in open ways.

In CCK08, we had numerous participants who did not contribute by posting or commenting. Instead, they observed / lurked. They did not contribute in the way we would have expected. Lack of direct participation does not mean they didn't learn - at least that's what some participants have expressed here.

Open teaching, therefore, means also rethinking our expectations of engagement. We simply can't control students the way we have done in classroom environments. Open teaching will become a rather shallow concept if we bring too much of closed-classrooms to the process.


Online Learning Requirements


Grassroots activities in incorporating technology into teaching and learning goes a long way. Due to the current design of the education system, grassroots activities keep bumping up against barriers.

However, initiatives like this one in Minnesota will become more common:

"To expand access, increase technology skills, provide exciting and inspiring course content, and maximize efficiency and use of taxpayer resources, Governor Tim Pawlenty and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) Board of Trustees Chair David Olson today announced a goal to have 25 percent of all MnSCU credits earned through online courses by 2015."

It's a start. I'd like to hear more about how they're planning to develop the faculty to actually teach the online courses... and how they're redesigning the existing education system to ensure that they aren't only transferring content online, but that they are actually transforming the learning experience to utilize the affordances of the medium.


Google's Experimenting With New Search Features


Google is experimenting with search. Basic idea: when you're signed in to your Google account, you'll see the option of voting results up / down and to add comments to results. This doesn't (yet) impact the results others see. It's supposed to help personalize search.

Results are mixed.

Originally written by George Siemens for elearnspace and first published on November 27th 2008 in his newsletter 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".

Photo credits:
Connectivism: Networked Learner - solarseven
Definition of Emerging Technologies for Learning - PDAToday
Social Computing - Dawid Makowski
Visualizing Data - Gapminder
Microsoft's Personal Reboot: Web-Centric, But Beyond "The Cloud" - PDA Thoughts
Education Needs to Be Pulled Into The 21st Century - Helder Almeida
Systems for Supportive Open Teaching - Andres Rodriguez
Online Learning Requirements - sefa öncül
Google's Experimenting With New Search Features - Google

George Siemens -
Reference: eLearnSpace [ Read more ]
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posted by Daniele Bazzano on Saturday, November 29 2008, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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