Archive for the 'Culture' Category

Digital Artefact: The Future of Learning #edcmooc

I think I’ll have more time to reflect and comment on my artefact and the experience of making it in a few days, but for now here it is.

http://prezi.com/eaixra1t5vnf/future-of-learning/

Frontpage of digital artefact for #edcmooc

Digital Artefact for my “Elearning & Digital Cultures” class

 

How Technology Can Fuel a Culture of Lifelong Learning #edcmooc

In another assignment or response to the resources for this course we are asked to choose which of the perspectives below most resembles our views on the relationship between technology and pedagogy. We are asked to answer the question:  Can you point to instances in society or in your own context where this stance is necessary or useful?

  1. Uses determination: technology is shaped and takes meaning from how individuals and groups choose to use it. Technology itself is neutral. An example of this way of thinking can be seen in the educational mantra: ‘The pedagogy must lead the technology’.
  2. Technological determination: technology ‘produces new realities’, new ways of communicating, learning and living, and its effects can be unpredictable. This is the position Chandler explores in detail in our core reading.
  3. Social determination: technology is determined by the political and economic structures of society. Questions about ownership and control are key in this orientation.

The Pedagogy must lead the technology or do we find the technology and use it as we see fit?

This sounds about as stuffy and patronizing as a grammarian berating you for ending a sentence with a preposition. But if I take the view at face value it really means that the needs of the students to achieve the stated learning objectives must drive the design and use of the technology. Online learning has really been through some experimental phases in the last ten or so years so it actually seems that stance #2 or the idea that “technology produces new realities” (or learning environments is the case.  Let’s take the example of online forums and chat and their adoption as learning environment tools. Forums and chats were really developed more as a way for people online to carry on social conversations. One only needs to recall the days of the AOL chatrooms as places to meet like-minded folks. Developers of online learning courses adopted these tools as areas for discussing course topics and content. Later as the Internet became the spawning ground of many social sharing tools like YouTube, SlideShare, online communities, wikis, blogs and self expression tools like Glogster many tech savvy teachers saw the potential use for these tools as ways for students to develop expressive content in response to whatever they were learning. So it seems that both teachers and learners online were adopting the technologies as they existed rather that requiring that technologies be designed to meet their needs.  Most of the time pedagogy and the need to educate formally was NOT requiring or driving the formation of these tools and widgets.

Technology is determined by the political & economic structure of society. Copyright is King. So What’s a Mashup Maker to Do?

The third position maintains that technology is determined by the political and economic structures of society.  You could rephrase this in the argument that the market demand or the government may determine the development in one area of technology. One might argue on one hand that in a society where the government regulates application of technology via patents, is stifling innovation. On the other hand this same government could be protecting the interests of those who invest their resources in research and development of these technologies.  I’m of the view that stringent control will only stifle open exchange that leads to more innovation. Great ideas and the next disruptive innovation will most likely be based on ideas or products that are already out there, and to plant the seeds for this innovation the ground needs to be fertile with exchange, exploration and application of existing technology. Some of the most innovative and creative works are often derivative of past works and content, as Kirby Ferguson so effectively points out in his video series, “Everything is a Remix.” As Ferguson illustrates film makers such as Quentin Tarentino often borrow and reinterpret classic movies that inspired them early on. Tarentino’s Kill Bill series references many of classic Asian Martial Arts films while the recently released Django Unchained re-imagines and brilliantly combines elements of both Spaghetti Westerns and 70’s Blaxsploitation. Both Kill Bill & Django Unchained are remixed products that are completely unique and do what film should do & they do it well: they entertain.

But the creative process that relies upon being able to reference, re-hash or remix older works may be under threat. As content has become more easily shared on the Internet and corporations learn that there’s a demand for this content some may see opportunities in mining for content that has potential. As the European powers staked out land for their colonies entertainment corporations will lay claim on classics in the public domain. Watch out Dickens fans. Currently some major music labels are claiming copyright on public domain songs. Lobbyists for the copyright industry continue to push for laws that extend copyright claims.

Online resources for public domain works that provide a rich source of educational resources such as Project Gutenberg may be at risk in the future, and so is the ability to use content on the Internet creatively to learn. Several years ago Internet sharing helped give birth to the Mashup which allowed many people including students to do some remixing of their own.  If I were still teaching in a classroom, Mashups present the kind of learning opportunities that would excite me as an educator. They allow the student to really internalize the content and reinterpret it, which if I’m not mistaken prove that learning has occurred on the higher end of Bloom’s Taxonomy.  It makes a lot of sense that in this Coursera class, we’re being asked to create a Digital Artifact as our final project. It’s a way of proving whether we got the major points of the class, but not in some old fashioned way like writing an essay. We’re embracing the new way of measuring learning: making our own content to express and demonstrate how we’ve internalized what we learned.

While intellectual property laws are meant to protect everyone who creates content, it seems that eventually the only parties that IP laws will benefit will be the companies that have the resources to bankroll the legal teams it takes to enforce and defend. I could be wrong, but it seems that these opportunities for engaging in creative learning experiences may be at risk.

Which position do I lean towards?

Perhaps the question isn’t worded correctly or at least to my liking. I don’t feel like I lean towards any of these positions. Seven years ago, I felt that the Internet and sharing and content creation technologies opened a wonderful playground for learners, the kind of playground that would get people to fall in love with learning.  The tools and access to information and material allowed people to engage, learn and create their own content. But I have to admit I felt that we were living in the “Wild West” where possibilities were endless. It also seemed that my biggest wish as a child had been answered. From a very early age, I wanted an “Answer Genie.” This would be a genie that could answer any question that I had. The Internet seemed to provide me with something that’s just about as good, a philosopher’s stone. But this technology is changing me and everyone. As the economy and markets drive corporations to claim ownership of more, I can’t help but see them as this Leviathan that will sweep us away.

I can’t predict how things will develop. However, unless more people become more active producers of content instead of passive consumers of it, or if they realize the potential the Internet has as a learner’s gold mine, then we may not be able to take cues from anyone other than the companies that claim to own the content.

Kirby Ferguson Points Out: Nothing is Original

Additional Reads:

Copyright Monopoly Trends and Predictions for 2013

Discussion: Major Labels Claim Copyright Over Public Domain Songs

Fighting Management Preconceptions about Social Learning

I just found this wonderful preso on Social Learning. I kept on slapping thigh laughing as I read… “Oh yeah, that’s a good one!” For me the highlights were:

Yes, Play is OK - you need it to grow innovative, collaborative and fast-adapting employees.

“Control is an illusion” – Okay… this is where I slip into incredulous teenager mode: Duh! You can control what people are learning and sharing about as easily as you can keep water in a sieve.  The presenters note that “80% of learning happens outside” of formal learning systems in their control. This is “Informal Learning” in action. The faster leadership realizes that building a company culture where learning is valued, the quicker they will start fostering a truly effective organization. Also, it’s very important to build the expectation that employees are really responsible for learning (their job and how to enhance their work).

People already share bad information - no kidding. Everyone has experienced the grapevine effect in a workplace. Human beings honestly seek knowledge about the goings on, some need it to function and work effectively without fear. They will even speculate on management’s behavior when they have no information, which is why transparency is less dangerous than keeping your lipped buttoned.

I also really liked the fact that they provided some solutions for measuring ROI (Return on Investment).(CRUD: I actually wrote this section but it got lost in the blog ether when I was trying to save my post)  I think it’s possible to tie a company’s increased success to social learning initiatives through anecdotal stories.  Also, connecting increased levels of innovation could also be possible. Think James Burke’s Connections (the show from the early eighties). Much of the show argued that the worlds most famous and influential innovations such as the combustion engine would not have happened if people did not make connections with each other.  I think if you analyzed the history or development of a particular innovation at your company you can actually trace the connections that were needed to make the innovation happen. You may be able to identify whether or not these connections would have happened with the social networking  efforts in place.

Some excellent points were made, but I suspect that no amount of brilliant arguments will convince the hardcore curmudgeons that insist that Social Learning/Networking is bad and evil. My only question… Can I work for the folks who made this presentation?

Schools, Please Don’t Kill Our Creativity

At a workshop I attended yesterday, Barry Dahl mentioned this unforgettable lecture by Ken Robinson at the TED conference. In his incredibly adroit and humorous talk, Robinson maintains that schools today thrash the creativity out of kids. I would argue that the final death knell takes place once they enter today’s corporate work world.

In another inspiring lecture, Tim Brown, the CEO of IDEO champions the importance of play in productivity of design and innovation.

Tim Brown Teaches Adults How to Play at a Lecture

Tim Brown Teaches Adults How to Play at a Lecture

How can we, as educators promote creativity and play in our classrooms, while teaching important knowledge and skills? I feel that developing curriculum driven by “student created content” is key to developing the creative minds that will build our future. I don’t know about you, but as an old doddering woman, I would rather live in a world built by the next designer of earth shaking technologies and innovative policies that help promote progress and not in a world populated by people who are fettered by rules that squelch creativity and productivity.

“It’s in the making of things that kids actually do their learning”

(Exerpt below is from an article I wrote for our company blog.)

Creating content in schools extends past the traditional class-report or diorama making. I found this wonderful example of the King Middle School in Portland, Maine. I believe that this school is really putting the approaches to 21st Literacy Education in a Action. The video provides examples of how the school integrates subjects like science, English, math with technology education.


Click the photo to view the video. Note the video will open and play automatically in another browser window.

The kids participate in truly constructivist activities, by developing videos, artwork, and collaborating on the development of music and music scores. All of these activities and projects require formal knowledge in writing, math, science, research and history that used to be taught to students via textbooks in an isolated context. Here are a few quotes from the short film that really captured my attention:

“We don’t use textbooks, per se… we do a lot of research in class.”

“The approach is to bring out the best in every student.”

“It’s in the making of things, that kids do their learning.”

The school also partners with businesses like a local printing press to develop products. The students work together as teams to develop items such as books for the press. These students also have the opportunity to work with professionals like the professional documentary maker who help them improve the quality of their videos. They get real-life experience and are encouraged to stretch and deliver quality projects. They are not coddled or isolated from doing ‘real work’ because they are not ready to do it on a ‘professional level.’

As I finished watching the video, I realized that many teachers might have issues with the fact that some students contributed 7 pages of work to a final project while some contributed only three paragraphs. I like the attitude that these teachers at King have that “Everyone does what they can.” Plus everyone should contribute to the project using the skills and talents that they have. Perhaps a student who needs help with math but has kinesthetic talents can choreograph a dance, and teach the other students how to perform the dance to be included in a final project. A student who lags in writing but has design skills might lead the team that develops the costumes or set. Both students are exercising their communication and leadership skills in helping other get their tasks done. Students who are better at writing can help coach these students when they have to do the written component for the project.

I think the comment that sums up the value and power of this approach to education was made by the kids of King Middle School themselves, “No one feels stupid here anymore.”

Why wasn’t I born twenty years later? I would have loved to go to school in a place like this. Seeing examples like this really makes me excited about the work we do here at PLS because I believe that in what we do we strive to make learning experiences effective and powerful.

Change is Good, Change is Natural… Stasis is an abomination to nature

Excuse me while… I chew on this thought for a bit… I may wax philosophical. Things change. The seasons change. The Earth changes.   Geological records have proven that the Earth’s surface has changed many times over it’s long life. People change. Throughout history, technology has changed the way humans live, produce and interact with each other.  Do you think the emerging democracies could have occurred after the Middle Ages and Renaissance without the printing press and proliferation of ideas through books?

But why then do we so cling to the desire to ‘keep things the same?’ I’ve been wrestling with this idea ever since I can remember.  Maybe this explains my love of History. Perhaps humans naturally crave stability because they’ve spent much of their unrecorded and recorded history dealing with the seemingly unpredictable nature of the elements, disease, and natural events.  Animals respond to change via natural selection or development of instincts, but we actively try to stop change from happening or build constructs that allow us to thrive despite change.

What would happen if we had a ‘long memory’ for change?  Who would build communities or cities on a flood plain or riverbank if they had memory or records of constant floods? How would we deal with social change? Would we nod things off as just a fad that would pass or would we actually try to develop laws or social institutions that were meant to adapt to change? I’ve noticed that politicians rely on people’s limited memory of history in order to push their agendas or to get elected or re-elected into office. Sometimes I lament that we live such mayfly lives. Still, having this memory might actually cause use to become more conservative in our actions. Since we could better predict cycles of events because of our personal memories.

Someone had the foresight to build this house on stilts

Someone had the foresight to build this house on stilts - Image from the Morguefile.

Resources/more stuff:

Why people resist change (from the Slow Leadership Site)

I finally got a Second Life


Now how the hell do I get down… I’m stuck flying, suspended in the air. (okay… I figured it out… click the Fly/Stop Flying button).

My first avatar in Second Life

My avatar, Bunny Kiwitz, suspended in the air at the “Pier of Culture.”
All I need is an umbrella and a carpet bag.

NMC second life orientation plaza

My avatar, in the Second Life Orientation Plaza with her new ‘outfit.’

Thanks to the TCC conference I was able to get my first taste of Second Life. I’m not fully hooked yet, but intrigued and I see the range of possibilities in here. I can now see what they meant by “steep learning curve” when it comes to learning how to be proficient in S.L. I unknowingly hit the “fly” button and couldn’t figure out how to get down. Also there are so many features and controls to work with that I found it a bit hard to get my bearings. Fortunately, the NMC tutorial ‘plaza’ allowed me to walk through a ‘museum of exhibits’ that showed me how to become familiar with the controls and features in Second Life. I was also able to learn a few things about how to integrate into “Second Life Culture,” such as how to use gestures and how to properly chat with people in a group.

Bunny the avatar learns how to communicate in SL

During the conference I also attended a lecture/debate on the popularity and future of Second Life. One of the arguments in support of Second Life as a learning environment was that today’s students interact with and process information much differently than their predecessors. Second Life give them the opportunity to access it in a virtual space as well as interact with peers from all over the globe. These “Digital Natives” expect instant access to information and rely on social networking to get and build information. They have a ‘digital literacy’ because they’ve been raised with interactive technology that we “Digital Immigrants” need to be aware of.

Second Life allows participants to actively build both simulated and fantasy models and interact with these models. It stimulates creativity and promotes simulated learning of real-life scenarios. It provides students with the ability to engage in “situated learning” and as the one lecturer quoted, “work together to create a shared understanding that none have previously possessed.”

The half of this lecture that countered the support for SL, argued that the learning curve for Second Life is so steep that it’s just too frustrating for some learners. They also made the argument that subscriptions to the virtual world are dwindling and that people enter and experiment but they do not stay or continue to return. Second Life is merely another techie fad that will eventually become obscure and dated in the wake of progress.

Another point that this person brought up was that all the businesses that invested in real estate in Second Life are now pulling out. Personally, I think that the failure is due to the fact that they took a rather two dimensional approach to applying SL. They simply used it as only a virtual store. How boring! They could have developed an interactive storyline or even learning material around their products, and, oh yes, they could have given more free stuff. Free stuff always hooks people even if it’s free ‘virtual’ stuff.

I have this theory about these new virtual/simulated environments… that is when we (or most of us who are not digital protoges) become immersed in them our first instinct is not to create new and innovative things. We build what’s most familiar to us. In all fairness to the corporate businesses, they were in a hurry (as they always are) to get a piece of the Second Life action so they hastily constructed what they thought would work.

I believe that both sides of this debate brought up valid points. Though I’m becoming convinced that Second Life does provide participants with the opportunity to learn in a rich and interactive environment. Perhaps in the future it will become easier to learn and use.

I was going for the one piece tracksuit thing… maybe not my style but, oh well.

Does Everything Microsoft Touches Turn to Suck?

I can name a few things that come to mind….the “Ipod Killer,” attempts at Voice recognition software, their MSN web, Vista….

I know they have a few good things (at least from appearance) like the “Surface” project. Though I have never actually interacted the with device, so I can’t give a personal assessment of the tool.

This whole takeover of Yahoo by Microsoft worries and annoys me. Maybe it’s because MS is just again throwing their muscle around rather than focusing on creating new and innovative tools that people will like. Maybe I just don’t like the idea of large, looming bodies of companies that swallow up smaller businesses and then pass them through like refuse. Didn’t these Microsoft executives read the “NEW RULES” for running a corporation? I suppose you could just say that this is ‘normal’ behavior for a large predatory company and we should just write off these actions as expected. But as a consumer, I just want to make sure the products that I have available to me are “usable” from my perspective as a user, not a software engineer’s idea of ‘usable.’

Maybe it’s because I’ve worked in a very dysfunctional corporate environment similar to Microsoft’s, and I’m just assuming that most large corporations operate the same way (with very little imagination and too much politics). The are so fat and lard ridden that they have no choice but to throw their weight around like a corpulent bully, who must rely on manipulative and predatory tactics to maintain his position.

I also know that large companies use their patent attorneys to search out new and innovative processes developed by smaller companies. These patent attorneys work around the clock to develop broad patents so that once they find instances of small businesses and individuals actually developing something that works, they claim the right to the patent. Evil, huh?

I realize that History shows that Microsoft has given us products in the past that have pushed computing forward. Also, so many companies and people have become dependent on their software and tools. They’re big so they have better resources for offering technical support* Gee, I’m starting to sound like that bit in the film Life of Brian where the group of Judean Peoples front (or Peoples’s Front of Judea) asks…. “What have the Romans done for us?!” I just take issue with the way Microsoft does business, and before anyone points out that their behavior as a company is natural for their size and position, it seems that their way of doing business doesn’t meet everyone’s (the end users) needs. Therefore it’s in all of our interests to have other companies large and small who can fill these niches for us.

But when it comes to this recent takeover, I really can’t see them improving tools like the photo sharing tool Flickr. Also, having had a great deal of experience using Microsoft tools like MS Project and Sharepoint. I really don’t get the feeling that Microsoft really has a cultural appreciation of usability. Maybe Microsoft also suffers from the innovation drain, or their execution of new products just stinks. I could be wrong, but my intuition tells me that companies who are innovative and dynamic usually draw the right types of people who can think, create and implement dynamically. Maybe the combination of the doldrum suburban location and the restrictive politics and culture hurts some companies who can’t draw ideal teams of innovators and star project developers, I don’t know.

*Though one might argue with a well designed product you need less support.

What have the Romans done for us?

[Youtube=http://youtube.com/watch?v=IaE3EaQte78]


Why?

My place outside of work to explore and make connections with the ideas and things (sometimes work-related) that I'm passionate about.

My Tweets

Blog Stats

  • 243,841 hits

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 81 other followers