Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Media Literacy: Making Sense Of New Technologies And Media by George Siemens - Apr 11 09

In this week Media Literacy Digest: data visualization, advances in robotics technology, alternative approaches in education, the future of academic courses and the newspaper crisis.

Photo credit: Stephen Downes

If from one hand newspapers want to ride the online business opportunities available to them, while spreading their content to a wider readership, on the other hand they still want to maintain complete control over what is published, thus eradicating at the source any effort to share or redistribute.

But "openness and content control are two separate tightropes. Both can't be walked at the same time".

So, what is the right thing to do? To share or not to share? Whichever the correct answer, for George Siemens it is the inability of newspapers to choose a precise editorial strategy, consistently, that really rubs salt into newspapers wounds.

If you want to explore new thoughts and the opportunities offered by some of these new emerging content distribution models, Dr Siemens weekly pointers and intellectual ponderings may help you make sense of some of the disruptive changes taking place all around you.




eLearning Resources and News

learning, networks, knowledge, technology, trends

by George Siemens


Visualizing OECD Data

Click above to enlarge image - OECD visualization tool

While reading OECD's publication Education Today, I noticed a StatLink option under each of the tables / charts.

StatLink is part of OECD's ongoing initiative to make data available in original form. A simple click and data is downloaded into a spreadsheet for happy manipulation by the user. A simple, but important idea.

OECD also offers a tool to visualize data. The data is somewhat limited (employment, productivity, educational attainment, GDP, etc) in scope, but the willingness to share not only original data but also software to assist in making sense of data is a welcomed gesture!


Cynefin Framework

I have referenced the Cynefin Framework several times in presentations and articles. The framework considers how cause and effect relationships are exhibited in simple, complicated, complex, and chaotic environments.

Mismatching an approach to an environment is a step toward failure. For example, complex environments - where multiple interacting factors form and re-form in continually changing patterns - cannot be managed through a simplistic (linear and structured) approach.

To be successful, the method of engagement with an environment must reflect the attributes of the environment we are considering.

Anecdote explains the Cynefin Framework in a short presentation.


Those Crazy (Sentient?) Robots


Robotics advances seem to occur under the radar of most of society. The odd news release provides updates... but, if I'm any indication, most of us are blissfully unaware of what's happening with robots. A few recent developments:

  • Military robots: "The trend is clear: Warfare will continue and autonomous robots will ultimately be deployed in its conduct." Needless to say, humanity has many questions to answer on this subject. What is possible currently far exceeds our understanding of impact.
  • Robot scientist: "British scientists have unveiled a robot that can make its own scientific discoveries by coming up with hypotheses, designing experiments, and conducting them all on its own."


Just Can't Get Enough of Newspapers


And, again, I return to the plight of newspapers. Death wheeze of newspapers explores the challenge newspapers face between being open (wanting Google to index their content so others can find it) and content control and ownership (not wanting others to take and use their content). I think one or the other view has to give.

Openness and content control are two separate tightropes. Both can't be walked at the same time.

Jeff Jarvis blames the failure of the newspaper industry on... the newspaper industry:

"You blew it. You've had 20 years since the start of the web, 15 years since the creation of the commercial browser and craigslist, a decade since the birth of blogs and Google to understand the changes in the media economy and the new behaviors of the next generation".

I'm intrigued by the inability of large organizations and industries to respond to changes and shift focus even when they have a decade (or more) of warning. GM comes to mind. As do newspapers. And the music industry.

Why can't an industry change when it's in trouble? Why try and impose your will / model on others, rather than tuning into what your audience wants and then responding appropriately?

Courses to Dis/Course


A few months ago, Martin Weller presented the idea of collaborating on an online conference on the future of courses. Grainne Conole was invited and the three of us have managed to concoct a two day online mini-conference on the future of courses: From Courses to Dis/Course.

The site provides a brief overview of the event with a tentative schedule (more speakers will be added once confirmed). For now, if you're interested in being involved in the conversation, note May 14 & 15 on your calendar.



Over the last few years, Tony Karrer, Jay Cross, and I have organized an annual online event on Corporate Learning: Trends and Innovations. We are planning to host a similar event this year.

When we (ok, it was Jay) were soliciting feedback from participants of the November '08 event, many expressed an interest in regular, shorter events held throughout the year.

Tony recently hosted an event on Sharepoint and Learning (and will be hosting another event in May).

Jay is organizing Future Learning and Development for April 21. And I'm organizing an event in June on Networked Social Learning.

To stay informed on these events, please join LearnTrends.

Tutor / Mentor Connection


Learning can't be confined to the boundaries of formal education. We learn constantly.

In some instances, learners require extra support or guidance to overcome challenges they face. These challenges take various forms:

  • financial or poverty-based,
  • inability to access resources,
  • lack of quality education opportunities,
  • lack of awareness of informal learning opportunities and how to access them (i.e. libraries, museums, and learning centres),
  • lack of personal social support providing encouragement and motivation to navigate life's difficult moments, etc.

I've been in contact with Dan Bassill over the last several years around a project he's involved with: Tutor / Mentor Connection.

The organization has the mandate of

"improving the availability and quality of comprehensive, long-term, volunteer-based tutor / mentor programs in high-poverty areas of the Chicago region and other large US cities through an ongoing, dynamic exchange of ideas."

I haven't reviewed their program model at depth, but this page indicates the process of connecting mentors / tutors options... see this interactive map as well. A great concept.

We pay too little attention to the value of volunteering tutoring. In a visit to Brazil last week, I had the pleasure of visiting The Hub. The Hub is a social entrepreneur model where people and ideas connect in open, social spaces. A great concept. Social help / learning offer promise as a model for rethinking traditional education.

Originally written by George Siemens for elearnspace and first published on April 9th 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:
Those Crazy (Sentient?) Robots - Ralf Kraft
Just Can't Get Enough of Newspapers - Wisent
Courses to Dis/Course -AlexStar
Tutor / Mentor Connection -milkovasa

George Siemens -
Reference: eLearnSpace [ Read more ]
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posted by Daniele Bazzano on Saturday, April 11 2009, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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