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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Media Literacy: Making Sense Of New Technologies And Media by George Siemens - Feb 21 09

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A networked-view of the world, the importance of good visuals and the need for rethinking how organizations can adapt to the disruptive changes brought by Web 2.0 technologies, are just some of the interesting topics that George Siemens explores in this issue of Media Literacy Digest.

Photo credit: George Siemens

Among them, one is particularly worth of attention: if you consider a world which is all networked, where everyone helps everyone else and social barriers no longer exist, is there still place for so-called "experts"? Can the connection you tie with your peers fully substitute the guidance role that those mentors play?

This, and the other fascinating issues covered in this media literacy digest may help you make greater sense of the disruptive changes that our society and education system face in these fast-changing times.


eLearning Resources and News

learning, networks, knowledge, technology, trends

by George Siemens


Web 2.0 and the Organization


McKinsey Quarterly tackles web 2.0 in the enterprise. Don't like the article. Building on an instantiation of change, rather than on change itself, seems rather silly to me.

At points in the article, commons sense statements are offered like "Participatory technologies have the highest chance of success when incorporated into a user's daily workflow" or "Companies often have difficulty maintaining the right balance of freedom and control". The real task of organizational change is only briefly alluded to at the beginning of the article when the authors proclaim "they [web 2.0 tools] are inherently disruptive and often challenge an organization and its culture".

As stated in my paper on success and strategy in a digital world, the heart of the issue is about organizational change. I think we are at a stage where universities, corporations, and other organizations have to start looking at the long-term cycle of change we are current experiencing.

Blogs, wikis, and web 2.0 are only the current instantiation of change. What's required is a "re-think" of what organizations are... and how employees / faculty and learners / customers are connected to each other.

We've had five years of web 2.0 window dressing. It's time to build a new structure.


Contagion Amongst Banks

This will hardly surprise readers, but I'm somewhat partial to a networked-view of the world.

Varies organizations / disciplines are realizing that seeing the world as networked helps to explain why things sometimes happen as they do. Diseases, information, learning, and social relationships are networked.

The rise of blogs, Facebook, and Twitter has given people personal experiences of how connections form and influence the flow of information.

Complex problems - like economics - cannot be fully understood outside of a network view. Valdis Krebs tackles the spread of "toxic assets" through banking systems: Contagion amongst Banks.

For a short video of the financial connections, have a look at this Crisis of Credit video.


On Communicating Visually


As I've stated, I'm trying to make greater use of visuals. Hard to make sense of the value of visuals with poorly presented articles like this: Why communicate visually.

Some sloppy research on the old "10% hear, 20% read, 80% do" - this time attributed to Bruner. Will Thalheimer debunks / questions the validity of this claim. This automatically calls into question related statements in the article (not cited properly) about the prominence of visuals in learning and retention.

I don't trust the author. But then I have to ask myself, why I want to use images / visuals. To increase effectiveness of learners who take a course I teach? To improve my ability to communicate? What can visuals do that text can't? And where is the research that supports that claim?


The Death of News


News - of the investigative journalist variety that helped launch Nixon to even greater fame - has been said to be the real casualty of the development of amateur news. I've heard this argument several times over the last few years, but a recent article captures the sentiment best:

But the real problem isn't that newspapers may be doomed. I would be severely disheartened if I was forced to abandon my morning ritual of sitting on my deck with a coffee and the papers, but I would no doubt get used to burning out my retinas over the screen an hour earlier than usual.

As Nation columnist Eric Alterman recently argued, the real problem isn't the impending death of newspapers, but the impending death of news - at least news as we know it.

What is really threatened by the decline of newspapers and the related rise of online media is reporting - on-the-ground reporting by trained journalists who know the subject, have developed sources on all sides, strive for objectivity and are working with editors who check their facts, steer them in the right direction and are a further check against unwarranted assumptions, sloppy thinking and reporting, and conscious or unconscious bias.

This discussion has the same underlying fear that we see in educational reform: but how can people be informed without experts? Can amateurs do what experts do? Can society function without any sense of privilege applied to certain "keepers and disseminaters" of information? It's a tricky question.

  1. First, it assumes that knowing in abundant information environments can be managed by the same model as knowing in scarce information climates.
  2. Secondly, it assumes that it's an "either / or" question, not one with gradients.
  3. Thirdly, it assumes that most people won't figure things out on their own without some type of guidance.

Somehow, we must retain the value of expert-levels of knowing while facing the reality that knowing is increasingly networked, with reduced prominence applied to experts (i.e. the expert becomes a node among others, not the central hub).


Online Conference on Improving Conferences


Our online conference on improving traditional conferences is coming together rather nicely. We start tomorrow and run through until Friday.

Jay has posted a few thoughts on the need for online conferences... and shares the results from an informal survey about the state of conferences.

Originally written by George Siemens for elearnspace and first published on February 20th 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:
On Communicating Visually - Angela_Way
The Death of News - George Cloake

George Siemens -
Reference: eLearnSpace [ Read more ]
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posted by Daniele Bazzano on Saturday, February 21 2009, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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