Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Making Sense Of New Technologies And Media: An Opinionated Digest by George Siemens - Mar.22 08

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There is a lot of information out there. And it's growing. Faster. It is difficult to get a clear grasp of the amount of information currently in existence and we are all at a primitive stage when it comes to handle, process, digest, evaluate and understand this growing ocean of information coming at us.

In this weekly digest, media, learning and educational technologies expert George Siemens brings together some of the most interesting and worthwhile tech and media stories that have captured his interest.

Check out the future of LMS, the good things about Twitter you never realized, a great way to visualize presentations to summarize conference proceedings, great multimedia materials on the history of learning technologies and a lot more in this week media and technology digest.


Information Growth

libro-the Diverse and exoloding Digital Universe-ok.jpg

In case you were not aware, I will provide you with an important insight: there is a lot of information out there. And it's growing. Faster. It is difficult to get a clear grasp of the amount of information currently in existence. Previous reports (such as How Much Information? - 2003) are rather outdated.

IDC offered a report in 2007 on information growth, and now provides 2008 edition (.pdf):

"In this companion to last year's EMC-sponsored white paper, IDC again calibrates the size (bigger than first thought) and the growth (faster than expected) of the digital universe through 2011."
The main website also allows people to calculate their digital footprint.

The field of informatics (i.e. study of information) is not very developed. We are all impacted by information growth and development - in fact this is one of the areas that most impacts us - and yet we have at best a rudimentary understanding of the nature of information. Sure, we have people telling us information is exploding...that it's overwhelming...and so on. But that's a bit like saying the patient has a fever.

I'd like to know more. I'm surprised at how little we actually understand of information itself, especially when considering the tremendous impact on our lives.

Future Directions of Learning Management Systems


Elliot Masie interviews CEOs from numerous learning systems corporation (the term "management" appears to be missing).

The interviews provide insight into how corporate leaders see learning unfolding. I was surprised at how much of the dialogue was related to conversations we've had online for years: changing content, increased participation of learners, skill sets of younger learners, aging workforce, etc.

Pan Canadian Research Agenda


Terry Anderson has posted information on a Pan Canadian Research Agenda. It's an important document in order to reclaim the ground Canada has lost to other countries in elearning.

We're trying to arrange a focus group to discuss options. We/I had hoped Canadian Council on Learning would be interested in being involved but have been unable to make a connection. If anyone has insight into the workings of CCL, let us know :).

Twitter, Twitter, Twitter


I didn't understand Twitter at first. It seemed, at best, to be a colossal waste of time. I already had several blogs, social networking profiles, flickr account, etc. What more did I need? And, why in the world do I need to tell people "what I'm doing now" in 140 characters? Since I created my account, I would periodically post "I'm in the airport", or "going for lunch". All very trivial. And I saw no point to it. But...then I started experiencing Twitter less as a broadcast tool with intermittent interaction (the way I largely see blogs), and more as a living network.

For example, I'm in San Antonio, and I post on Twitter that my presentation - Rethinking Curriculum, Knowledge, and Learning - is available on Slideshare. Within five minutes, over 50 people had started viewing the slides. Hmm.

The speed of information sharing, and the growing awareness of what key learning nodes in my network are up to (thinking, doing, feeling), changed my perspective. Last week, I posted a request with regard to Second Life. Within about two minutes, Jennifer Jones put me in touch with the very helpful Fleep, and...problem is solved. I had to overcome my blog perspective in order to see the affordances of Twitter.

Twitter is a conversation, not a monologue. So, I'm suddenly a Twitter fan (you can find me here). A few Twitter resources to explore:

How Twitter makes it real:

"I feel that I have a foretaste of what tomorrow's network world will bring, when the boundaries have dissolved completely and we can experience the network directly"

More Twitter Types...and Twitter etiquette.



So it only costs about 6K to register for the TED conference. But the event gives much back for free - like the oft cited TED Talks. Well, here's a new approach to conference summaries: visualization of the presentations in TED 2008 BigViz (.pdf). See also the support page with video, etc.

An innovative approach to summarizing conference proceedings in, what they call, "idea maps".

A Trip Down Memory Lane...


Some neat videos/images/discussion on the history of learning technologies and the internet:

Scanned images of a 1962 text on how technology might influence learning

Newsweek in 1995: The Internet? Bah!:

"Visionaries see a future of telecommuting workers, interactive libraries and multimedia classrooms. They speak of electronic town meetings and virtual communities. Commerce and business will shift from offices and malls to networks and modems. And the freedom of digital networks will make government more democratic.

Do our computer pundits lack all common sense? The truth in no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works."

Early videos on the internet - wow, 35-40 million people online? 14.4 baud modem? Awesome!

It's interesting to look back
even a decade and see what has developed. And to note that naysayers have long existed.

7 Sins of Memory


Memory is fallible. We all know that. Conversations with friends/family often yield dramatically different results. And yet, somehow, we still manage to communicate. PsyBlog has compiled a list of memory related sins.

A great overview of memory-related concerns for educators (though a part of me questions if memory still has the critical role in information sharing that it once did, due largely to the rise of the web, search engines, and social networks). Articles discuss long-term memory, deep processing, misattributions of source and context, bias, and persistence.

Emerging Technologies


Technology Review provides its list of emerging technologies. Many are outside of my scope of interest - i.e. hard to define use for in academic roles. A few do stick out, however:

  • Modeling Surprise - anything seeking to make sense of massive quantities of data through the integration of principles of psychology is potentially valuable educationally.
  • Connectomics - the attempt to model our neural networks
  • Reality Mining - collecting data from mobile phones in order to observe human behaviour.


Originally written by George Siemens and published as weekly email digest on eLearning Resources and News. First published on March 14th 2008.


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".

George Siemens -
Reference: eLearnSpace
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posted by Robin Good on Saturday, March 22 2008, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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