Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Making Sense Of New Technologies And Media: An Opinionated Digest by George Siemens - May. 11 08

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From social media to personal networks, all new media and technologies play an increasingly important role in how we understand and handle our increasingly complex lives. Media, news, video games, communication theory, philosophy, and other areas contribute to my understanding of the role of technology for learning. But learning is not confined to colleges and universities. For those in the forefront, the ability to form networks has now become nearly vital for achieving personal and career goals.

Photo credit:">Lars Christensen

Nonetheless we often say that we do not have the time required to invest in social media and their related activities our ability to share and to form social networks will be increasingly vital to achieve your personal and career goals.

E-learning technologies scholar, researcher and guru, George Siemens, takes you into this weekly exploration of stories, resources and research data to better understand how media and technologies influence, expand and revolutionize the way we work, learn and evolve new ways of co-operating intelligently.


eLearning Strategy


On Monday (May 12), we will begin our online conference: Shaping our future: Toward a Pan-Canadian elearning research agenda. Terry Anderson is the first presenter and will be presenting on The value, form, and function of a large scale research agenda. All sessions can be accessed here. Discussion during the conference (and more information on schedule, themes, etc) will be held here. If you're interested in attending our Monday presentation, please review how the scheduled time translates into your time zone.

Networking for Your Career


I spend most of my time looking at networks from the perspective of learners and educators. I find my own personal network for learning far exceeds any other information source (including Google). As I begin to follow/read different practitioners and theorists, I begin to develop in my own understanding - especially if they represent a related, but not overly similar field.

Media, news, video games, communication theory, philosophy, and other areas contribute to my understanding of the role of technology for learning. But learning is not confined to colleges and universities. As this article states, the ability to form networks is vital for achieving personal and career goals. When I suggest how important personal learning networks are, I often encounter the statement "I don't have time". As this author, Herminia Ibarra, states: "If you want to succeed you need to make the time". She then goes on to suggest that we need to schedule time for forming networks so that it becomes habitual. I wonder how many educators regularly set aside time to consider the quality and diversity of their networks...



A short exploration of Twitter as a tool for reporting, filtering information, and consuming (much) time. A particular focus in the article is the use of twitter for finding information. I frequently see educators posting requests on Twitter...and the network replying with a great list of resources, often within minutes.

Email lists no longer exhibit this spirit of sharing. It might be due to email fatigue and the fact that most of us see email as a burden, not an opportunity for helping others. With Twitter, the spirit of sharing and assistance remains strong. At least until network fatigue kicks in...

Walking Uncertain Paths: Technologies and Models of Learning for Tomorrow


During this last week, at MADLaT, Peter Tittenberger and I presented several sessions. The first was a workshop addressing approaches educators need to consider as they move content online. The second session - Walking Uncertain Paths: Technologies and models of learning for tomorrow - was focus on where we are heading with educational technology, as technology both influences and reflects existing mindsets within society. I enjoyed both sessions as most of the time was spent in conversation rather than presentation. At one point, as a group of educators were addressing some of the change pressures they face, I asked about the key question guiding their technology plan: Is the question one of should we use technology or one of how should we use technology? Everyone in attendance stated technology use was a foregone conclusion. The only question they were grappling with was how to make it work. Not sure how I feel about that. A few good cynics are always nice to have around :).

Social Networks Around the World


This is a bit dated (from last year, which is a condition of obsolescence in online tools and applications) but still useful to consider how social network sites are positioned around the world. I'm interested in how countries not yet dominant in social networking, but possessing large populations, will influence maps like this. Will sites like Facebook and Myspace be able to successfully internationalize? Or will companies such as South Korea's Cyworld serve their own markets more effectively?

What Do We Do with Computers?


RescueTime is a tool that tracks what a user does with her/his computer. I tried it for a while. It was depressing, so I stopped using it. They've now publicized some aggregate information on computing habits of early adopters. The results are not surprising - most people still spend the bulk of their time in Microsoft-based applications. Google is coming on strong, however, with their email service approaching Outlook in terms of usage time. Google Reader rated quite highly as well for early adopters, almost on par with time spent in Google search.



Identity is challenging in a distributed environment. When dealing with educators, I often mention that if they are not involved in networked conversation, their voice essentially doesn't exist (which raises the prospect that learners will receive information from less than ideal sources). Well, in reality, if you're not online, it's not only that you don't exist. Instead, the challenge arises that others may form your identity for you.

For example, in a neighboring city of Brandon, Manitoba, a teenager has been charged with impersonating a teacher for creating a Facebook account using the teachers name and identity. While I see the parallel with impersonating a person in a physical space (and therefore the basis of the arrest), these types of things are almost impossible to control.

The onus of confirming identity - much like email spam - should rest on the people interacting with the Facebook profile. I have become cynical over the last few years about people offering me huge sums of money if I will only provide my personal banking information. In a similar sense, when I encounter an individual online, I need to question/be wary. As astonishing as it may appear, not everything we encounter online is completely accurate.

Leading Learning


I presented at the Leading Learning conference this morning...presentation slides are here: On Becoming: cognitive and social impact of technology.

My focus was on retaining the needed elements of education - transforming learner and society, deep understanding, cultivating capacity for ethical thought, and emphasizing "what it means to be human" - while fostering greater innovation in teaching and learning through the opportunities of technology. It's a tough balance to get right.


Originally written by George Siemens and published as weekly email digest on eLearning Resources and News. First published on May 10th 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 [ Read more ]
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posted by Robin Good on Sunday, May 11 2008, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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