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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Media Literacy: Making Sense Of New Technologies And Media by George Siemens - Dec 20 08

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Erick Schonfeld of TechCrunch suggests a new possible scenario for your online identity. Google and Facebook may soon be the only companies controlling the way most of you are going to identify yourself on the Web.

Photo credit: kaipata

Facebook Connect and Google Friend Connect are two new and competing services which provide you with the ability to login into your favorite social network, as well as to access an increasing number of your preferred content publication and distribution services: from YouTube to Delicious and more.

The key new thing here, is that by adopting one of these online identification systems you can log into all of these web-based services by using always the same credentials.

For example: popular site TechCrunch has already started using both Facebook Connect and Google Friend Connect to allow its readers to login into the site social community by using their own Facebook and Google credentials. Similarly, the commenting system Disqus has also been thinking about integrating these two same services by the end of the year.

But is this really a cool thing, from all standpoints?

As George Siemens points out in this Media Literacy digest issue, Facebook and Google already own the majority of the digital content you share on the Web. Your e-mail, photos, music, contacts, are all mostly stored on their servers. Given this situation, how smart is it to allow these two companies to be able to also start monitoring all of your moves and actions online? Should they be the ones to control your access to your social network, blog comments, and to everything else you do online?

This, along with other hot technology issues and new interesting media and education-related resources, makes up for another rich media literacy digest, showcasing the deep and disruptive changes new media technologies are bringing into your lives, and the good questions you should ask yourself before fully embracing them.

Intro by Robin Good


eLearning Resources and News

learning, networks, knowledge, technology, trends

by George Siemens


Facebook vs. Google


Earlier this year, the short term future of the internet included a four company race:

Since that time, Yahoo has managed to successfully exclude itself. They are now best seen as an acquisition opportunity.

Microsoft is still trying to figure out how it can apply a similar lock to the internet that it has (had?) on the desktop. They're current philosophy is "innovation through blatant duplication" - revealed by the Zune and a rumoured Zune phone.

Microsoft's internet strategy is confused at best, retaining too much of the desktop model. They are trying to innovate, and given their financial resources and market presence, they shouldn't be ruled out. Which leaves Google and Facebook as the two prominent companies fighting to define the future of the internet.

Google is stable and consistent, reporting continued growth in their share of the search market and regular innovations (with odd, slightly embarrassing missteps such as Lively).

It appears that Facebook has all the momentum right now.

Facebook is where Google was five years ago - innovative, redefining the game, and operating on a different set of premises from its competitors. Most companies launching widely disliked platforms such as Beacon would be punished by loss of users. Not Facebook. They keep growing - Facebook is challenging Google for the amount of time visitors spend with the service.


Balance Between Individual and Group-genius


Science and art have been historically defined by individual genius. In the 50's, individual invention gave way to group / institutional invention (i.e. Bell Labs).

Now it appears that loosely connected networks of specialized expertise (such as pharmaceutical networks or the network that was formed to research SARS at the height of the crisis in 2003) are providing answers to the most challenging questions of our era.

At the heart of the transition from individual to institution to network innovation is obviously the role of the individual.

Is Einstein the last genius takes a look at the value of individual vs. group based activities:

""Successful research groups are those that grow and evolve on their own over time," he says. "For example, an individual comes up with a good idea, gets funding, and new group begins to form around that good idea. This creates a framework where many smaller groups contribute to the whole.""


Grades: Evaluation Without Context


Malcolm Gladwell is busy promoting his new book about the systemic (sometimes circumstantial) causes for success - Outliers.

He carries this focus into an article: Most likely to succeed:

"There are certain jobs where almost nothing you can learn about candidates before they start predicts how they'll do once they're hired. So how do we know whom to choose in cases like that? In recent years, a number of fields have begun to wrestle with this problem, but none with such profound social consequences as the profession of teaching."

There are many angles to consider in the article as Gladwell runs a parallel discussion of teacher success and quarterback success. I found the discussion of the limitations of tradition metrics most valuable (p. 5). We simply do not know who will be a good teacher by the ways we currently measure. Grades are essentially evaluation without context. The process of 'becoming' a teacher (or carpenter, plumber, or doctor) requires activities - and evaluation - to be situated in a real context.


Let's Talk Systemic Change


In recent presentations / discussions, I've been making the point that grassroots level approaches to reform in education are being hampered by systemic barriers.

The structure of systems of education impedes future innovation. What is required, of course, is a reformulation of educational institutions. As is often the case, we are not entirely without examples.

Consider Cisco's pursuit to redefine itself to better compete in a networked world:

"Today, a network of councils and boards empowered to launch new businesses, plus an evolving set of Web 2.0 gizmos -- not to mention a new financial incentive system -- encourage executives to work together like never before.

Pull back the tent flaps and Cisco citizens are blogging, vlogging, and virtualizing, using social-networking tools that they've made themselves and that, in many cases, far exceed the capabilities of the commercially available wikis, YouTubes, and Facebooks created by the kids up the road in Palo Alto... "Without changing the structure of your organization," Chambers told the analysts in September, "I would argue that [innovation] will not work.""


Who Owns My Thoughts?


It's been a year or so (I think) since mybloglog introduced the concept of having our identity (and network) trail behind us as we visited different websites. A site that set up mybloglog would allow visitors to connect with each other beyond simply comments. Not much happened with the concept after the launch. A few blogs added the widget, but I haven't seen significant adoption.

Of course, as Google has learned from Facebook, relationships are more important than content in determining loyalty and commitment to a site or service. While I can happily post on my site, the real value for readers is in the connections they form with other people.

Google has to date monetized content with services like adwords. But what do you do to monetize relationships?

How do you get people to use your service as a source for forming relationships?

Facebook answers with Facebook Connect and Google responds with Friend Connect (their marketing department wasn't involved in the "let's give this thing a creative name" discussion).
What does this mean?

Do all of our comments belong to Facebook? or Google? I'm personally less concerned with these companies owning my content than I am with their knowledge of my relationships / connections. Facebook in particular is very good at mining data based on relatedness (oh, look, many of George's friends list these topics of interest...or this political orientation...or religion).

Both Facebook and Google desire to know us, not just our content. That's what doesn't sit well with me. Oops, gotta go login to Google mail...then off to check my Facebook account.


Classroom Response Systems


Classroom response systems are now common in many universities and colleges.

CRS' are used for faculty to poll students - asking questions related to course content and, based on responses, re-teach key points or clarify misconceptions. While it sounds simple, writing questions that reveal misconceptions students have about curriculum is difficult. CRS are usually fairly affordable for students (except when they lose their clickers).

I always wondered why we were building separate systems for response when many students already have mobile phones. Why not just use phones and texting for feedback?

I read about an MIT initiative on something like this... and at least one university has started using iPhones for a response system. The important thing here is that the system works on any phone / device.

Originally written by George Siemens for elearnspace and first published on December 19th 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:
Facebook vs. Google - PaulPaladi
Balance Between Individual and Group-genius - Herbert Kratky
Grades: Evaluation Without Context - Gra├ža Victoria
Let's Talk Systemic Change - Tri Vo
Who Owns My Thoughts? - Dunca Daniel and madmaxer
Classroom Response Systems - Chris Modarelli

George Siemens -
Reference: eLearnSpace [ Read more ]
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posted by Daniele Bazzano on Saturday, December 20 2008, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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