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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Media Literacy: Making Sense Of New Technologies And Media by George Siemens - Feb 14 09

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Location-based learning, flexibility in education, and changing paradigms in society are just some of the pointers which George Siemens explores in this weekly issue of Media Literacy Digest.

Photo credit: D'Arcy Norman

Among the hot topics and issues covered in this week digest, the relationship between geographic location and success. Does it really matter to live and work in the place where you want to achieve your goals?

On one hand, if you do want "to succeed in your career, it's a good idea to be in areas that are hotspots for your field." Sure, no doubt about that. But even if you can't (or don't want to) move from your place, there are plenty of online resources that might help you to do so. You can skype your peers and colleagues, share your screen with them, or use a wiki to work on collaborative projects straight from your own living room.

What's then the best way to go?

Dr. Siemens seems to suggest that the best approach is to balance the two things. If you can, do not hesitate to go out and about to reach valuable people that may serve well to your purpose, but consider as well that packing your bags is not strictly necessary. New technologies can be very helpful to contact and tie relationships with people you can't easily reach on your own.

Moreover, if for example you want to build a startup and move to Silicon Valley, why the hell should you avoid getting in touch with a friend in Prague just because she will never ring at your doorbell? The best advice here is: flexibility is the key.

If you want to make greater sense of the disruptive changes that our society is undergoing, as every week here on MasterNewMedia, this digest brings you to pointers, places, and resources that might help you in your exploration journey.


eLearning Resources and News

learning, networks, knowledge, technology, trends

by George Siemens


Learning and Technology: Success and Strategy in a Digital World

Click above to enlarge the image

In late January, I presented at Learning Technologies 2009 in London. Had a great time (including spending time with Jay Cross getting depressed in the Imperial War Museum).

I've posted a paper that I used as the basis for my talk: Learning and Technology: Success and strategy in a digital world.

The paper focuses on the need for organizations - corporations, universities, NGOs - to conceive a more compelling vision for learning and development than currently exists.


Facebook on Top


Facebook is creeping into all aspects of information exchange. Celebrities use it to share information with fans, businesses use it as a marketing tool, activists use it to generate support for causes, family members use it... well, you get the idea. For many, it has become the primary information and interaction tool.

I haven't read stats on how Facebook use influences traditional media access, email use, or other social media. But more activity seems to be shifting to the platform in relation to other sites.

Techcrunch reports that FB has now take top spot among social media sites (for unique visitors).

Facebook is doing what Microsoft did in the 1980's: pulling together a suite of tools into one fairly easy to use interface. It doesn't have to be better than its competitors. It just has to be more prominent. People who have invested time forming social and work networks in the platform will find it increasingly difficult to leave.


Video Games Are Good For You!


This is the kind of report parents dream of - Video games are good for children:

"video games can stimulate learning of facts and skills such as strategic thinking, creativity, cooperation and innovative thinking, which are important skills in the information society".

It reminds me of Steinkuehler & Duncan's Scientific Habits of Minds in Virtual Worlds (.pdf) where they address "the potential of games for fostering scientific habits of mind".

People learn constantly - through games, strolling through a meadow, or sitting and thinking. It's how we're wired. The question for me is not whether we can learn through video games (we obviously can), but whether games are a more effective way of learning than other approaches.


Periods of Being Randomly Bored


In odd moments of silence, thoughts have a way of creeping in that appear foolish, but on additional reflection reveal something of value. The obvious solution to these random thoughts is to pursue hyper-distractedness. I don't always succeed on that front.

Lately, I've been thinking about how change happens. The US election was all about change. Why? Did Obama drive it? Or what about Apple's success with the iPhone / iPod / iMac? Did Apple create a market that didn't exist? That's the obvious view.

We like to hail heroes and visionary leaders. What if that's the wrong view? What if the real change is not driven by an organization or a person? What if resonance is the real factor?

It's entirely possible to say that Obama's success was not in what he created in terms of momentum, but that he was in synch with the minds of the populace. He didn't create change so much as resonate with the change occurring in society. Would any leader do? Or, getting back to Apple - if Apple didn't exist, wouldn't someone else have acquired the hip / cool product reputation?

Maybe it's not at all about single individuals and organizations. Maybe change is more concerned with the rhythms of a society or generation. Whoever is best resonates the change is declared the leader, when in actuality, they are only a mirror. I'll stop there before I get into determinism.


How the Crash Will Reshape America


Adhering to the motto "a provocative title will surely increase readership", Atlantic has an interesting article on How the Crash Will Reshape America:

Economic crises tend to reinforce and accelerate the underlying, long-term trends within an economy. Our economy is in the midst of a fundamental long-term transformation - similar to that of the late 19th century, when people streamed off farms and into new and rising industrial cities. In this case, the economy is shifting away from manufacturing and toward idea-driven creative industries - and that, too, favors America's talent-rich, fast-metabolizing places.

I find Richard Florida's "world is spiky" view to be more accurate than Thomas Friedman's "world is flat". But, in this article a tension that I've felt with Florida's work is more clearly revealed than previously.

Florida has argued - generally quite effectively - that location matters. Cities and regions of creativity and innovation spur growth. To succeed in your career, it's a good idea to be in areas that are hotspots for your field. But... I am not sure how to reconcile this view with the growth of technology.

Now, more than ever, technology has reduced the challenges of distance. Online education and distributed teams reflect this. Video conferencing and online conferences reduce the need for travel. Is location less, not more, important than in the past?


Uneven Impact


Creative Class analyzes the sectors hardest hit by job losses.

Traditional manufacturing fields are most impacted. Office, sales, computer, art, and architecture / engineering show large losses as well. Service sector jobs - health, education, legal - are fairing better than most. Many of those most impacted will soon be returning to colleges and universities to engage in new careers.

One of the things that has always irritated me about education is how the model is one that learners must adjust to... rather than systemic flexibility to meet diverse needs of learners.

Online learning has opened some opportunities for flexible learning. Largely, however, those returning to colleges will find the experience much as they did several decades ago. With a few extra LCD projectors and computer thrown in. Am I being too negative?

Originally written by George Siemens for elearnspace and first published on February 13th 2009 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:
Video Games Are Good For You! - Niki Crucillo
Periods of Being Randomly Bored - Johnny Lye
How the Crash Will Reshape America - David Davis
Uneven Impact - Luis Francisco Cordero

George Siemens -
Reference: eLearnSpace [ Read more ]
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posted by Daniele Bazzano on Saturday, February 14 2009, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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