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Saturday, March 14, 2009

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

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The use of mashups in learning, serialized feeds, the value of lectures, and crowdsourcing are just some of the topics George Siemens explores in this new issue of the Media Literacy Digest.

Photo credit: Courosa

The idea of serialized feeds, explored with Stephen Downes, is a fascinating one, and a potentially useful one in the delivery of online trainings as RSS-based courses. Serialized feeds are basically the RSS counterpart of email-based "autoresponders" and are characterized by posts being arranged inside the feed in a linear pre-established order, rather than in a standard reverse chronological one. In this way RSS subscribers of such a serialized feed start reading always from the first post and not from the latest (chronological) one. This allows for specific sequences of information, such as those to be provided in standard training situations to be more effectively delivered via RSS feeds.

If you are interested about new technologies and the social impact they have on the educational landscape, this weekly digest is a good source of pointers, facts and resources to make sense of the disruptive changes that are affecting our lifestyle, both on the Web and in the real world.


eLearning Resources and News

learning, networks, knowledge, technology, trends

by George Siemens


Handbook of Emerging Technologies For Learning


Over the last year or so, Peter Tittenberger and I have been working on a Handbook of Emerging Technologies for Learning. We're done with version #1.

The wiki is now available (will continue to be updated), and if you prefer to read paper, a .pdf version of the handbook is also available. Questions, comments, and reactions are most welcome.


Course: Virtual Worlds


We are offering a new course in our Certificate in Emerging Technologies: Immersive Worlds, Avatars, and Second Lives. A schedule of upcoming courses is available here.


Why TV Lost


Education has three components that provide value to learners: content, interaction, and accreditation.

  1. Content creation / validation has moved sharply (but not exclusively) to learner control... and where still under institutional control, it's often available for free.
  2. Interaction with peers and experts outside of universities is not confined to classrooms anymore. Blogs, podcasts, mailing lists, etc. offer learners the prospect of connecting with others globally.
  3. Which leaves accreditation as the main value offered by institutions to learners.

As educators we can look to other information and interaction centric fields for glimpses of what our future holds.

Consider the future of news:

"smart content, smart sensors, avatars reading the news to you from your television and even interactive newspaper boxes that print out a personalized paper and automa[t]ically orders your customary drink at a nearby Starbucks."

...or take a few minutes and read this post on Why TV Lost. Read the article with the view of education and learning (i.e. why education lost (will lose) and learning won (will win)).


Snowflake Effect


Here's your irony for the day: BECTA's site on emerging technologies only lets you read the Snowflake Effect article in MS Word. Very well then.

I heard Erik Duval speaking on the snowflake effect last year at E-Learn Las Vegas. Wayne Hodgins describes the snowflake effect:

"We now have the chance to invert our design assumptions from mass markets of similarity to singular markets of unique solutions for individuals. We now have the opportunity to adopt an approach which focuses on design for mass personalisation and uniqueness called the Snowflake Effect."

The article goes on to describe mashups as the means to personalize education... and introduces a variety of mashup "types".

Midway through the article, a Gartner quote states:

"web mashups, which mix content from publicly available sources, will be the dominant model (80 per cent) for the creation of new enterprise applications."

Does anyone believe Gartner? They have a habit of offering insane forecasts. Someone needs to research their accuracy. I think it's dismal. Anyway, Hodgins article is well worth the time. The personalization of learning through mashups is a welcomed concept.


The Burden of Proof: What Does Education Research Really Tell Us?


I appreciate the spirit of articles like this The burden of proof: What does education research really tell us?.

Various discussions are presented on the value of hands-on science education in contrast with lecture-based. It's difficult to defend lectures in today's participatory media environment. But I like lectures when they are delivered well with stories, examples, and even a few metaphors.

It's a mistake to conclude that lectures are passive. Carl Bereiter has argued that, based on Popper's three worlds, interacting with ideas is a form of active learning. I agree.

When interacting with ideas, we build, we contrast, we compare, we argue... call it "minds-on learning". I find as much satisfaction from a good book or lecture as I do from hands-on learning. A steady diet of either, however, and fatigue does set it.


The CCK08 Solution


I'm delayed in highlighting Stephen Downes' comments on our Connectivism and Connective Knowledge course from last fall. It's a good overview of how the course was setup, the challenges we encountered, technical details, and learner involvement.

Stephen casually references a new initiative that partly developed in CCK08: Serialized RSS Courses. This concept is developed more fully here:

"A serialized feed is one in which posts are arranged in a linear order and where subscribers always begin with the first post, no matter when they subscribe to the feed. This contrasts with an ordinary RSS feed, in which a subscriber will begin with today's post, no matter when the feed started".
Be sure to read through to comments by Tony Hirst. I think this is an important concept and one that deserves more attention.

The next stage is to find ways to allow subscribers to find, and connect to, each other. Information without social interaction is a reduction to MIT's OCW.


Forgetting Things...


If NASA can forget (ok, "lose knowledge") how to return to the moon and the US can forget how to make certain missiles, I'm sure we can be forgiven for our daily absent-mindedness.

I am, however, surprised information of national, even global, importance can be just... lost. And it makes me wonder what we are losing today. Or, are we losing anything? Does Google (and enterprise data management) capture all?

Obviously, once we capture everything, then we're faced with a new range of problems: how to make sense of abundance, how to recognize what's important in different contexts, etc.


Pushing the Limits of Crowdsourcing


Stories of the value of "crowdsourcing" (opening your content, code, information to the creative (and destructive) moods of the masses) are fairly common. Pushing the Limits of Crowdsourcing:

From around the world, almost 20,000 people chipped in on a five-minute animated film that features a love story between a guitar and a violin. You could have been one of them. All you needed was a Facebook account and an itch for computer-generated animation. The Mass Animation project, led by Yair Landau, is showing how much further crowdsourcing can go, and how traditional production methods may get left behind.

Crowdsourcing, as with any activity that pulls on and requires attention is subject to network phenomenon. Which means some initiatives will get lots of love and others will languish. In an ideal world, we would have many small dedicated projects carefully attended to by a passionate core.

LTC released software used for developing our Virtual Learning Commons. The masses didn't come to improve the software. I think this is more frequently the case than projects that succeed in gaining numerous contributors. That's why we don't hear much about competitors to Wikipedia.

Divergent attention and effort could possibly diminish the value of all projects. Does this mean crowdsourcing reduces diversity? I'm not sure. Need to think about that more.


Imminent Changes in Higher Education and Its Delivery


Over the last several years, I've been trying to communicate the basis for educational change: don't change education based on an instantiation of change (web 2.0, participative web)... change education based on foundational change.

What is the foundational change? As this article - Imminent Changes in Higher Education and its Delivery - states, it's related to how information is created / shared / validated / disseminated :

The term education is no longer bound by the traditional concepts that shackled it for so long - we don't have to rely on the traditional methods of information access and content delivery that formed our staple learning diet all these years.

Thanks to the Internet and associated technology, there have been rapid advances in the way we access and assimilate information. What was earlier available only at a premium cost is now open to all at no cost at all, what was earlier limited to the heavy, printed and bound version is now digitized and easier to access.

Originally written by George Siemens for elearnspace and first published on March 11th 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:
Why TV Lost - Paul Bodea
The Burden of Proof: What Does Education Research Really Tell Us? - Miroslav Tolimir
Forgetting Things... - James Steidl
Pushing the Limits of Crowdsourcing - Miroslav Tolimir
Imminent Changes in Higher Education and Its Delivery - brunoil

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

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