“But I’m a Busy Person. I Don’t Have Time for Technology!”

Ginger Lewman reflects back on this statement which she uttered in 2007.  Since then she started using social networks and says that her professional life is now completely different. She was using laptops in her classroom and had to learn from one of the 5th graders in making the most of using them, until she started using online networks and communities

All of a sudden, I was bringing tools and tech knowledge to my kids! Things they’d never heard of! It was me, not the 5th grader! How? I was spending HOURS in these networks, neglecting my family, lesson plans, and probably other things I didn’t even notice. But I did notice it was taking a lot of time. Looking back, I did it simply because Kevin told me to and he was the only support (beyond the 5th grader and the other kids’ parents) I was getting in building this school.

In full

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The Purpose of Personal Learning Networks

Sheilaspeaking reflects on her PLN – how she blogs and uses twitter, responding and adding comments. She find inspiration from thoughts of others, finding interaction and participation in open dialogues. She wonders about the significance of echo chambers online and what that means for PLNs:

I recognize and relate to the frequent concerns about echo chambers and the possible lack of diverse voices in networks, or shortcomings in how we interact with networks.  But I think it is important that we are sharing perspectives and raising voices in new ways, as well as connecting with those in decision-making roles that was not possible in the past.  Whether this is good, bad or pointless, it does mean something, if not many things.  Is participation in online forums and with social media allowing us to be included in what we have always wanted to be included in?

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Learning in Networks

Brian Harrison reports from #DENSI2012 on a discussion about networked learning. He believes that learning networks can enhance and develop collaboration amongst educators and show how learning amongst students as well as educators are connected. He mentions a taxonomy provided by Judith Warren Little which includes

Sharing: There is an exchange of learning that flows in two directions (think of sharing units, links or resources) but there is no expectation that the parties will actually use what has been shared. We are great collectors of ideas and resources but tend to stick with what we know and prefer. Sharing is important because it fosters a norm that sharing is a good thing for teachers and builds positive interdependence; a precondition for true collaborative learning. It is worth noting that this phase, and the next one, are non-hierarhcical and based upon the principle of mutual benefit.

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Social Learning, Complexity and the Enterprise

by , with  Creative Commons licence 3.0/by-nc

The social learning revolution has only just begun. Corporations that understand the value of knowledge sharing, teamwork, informal learning and joint problem solving are investing heavily in collaboration technology and are reaping the early rewards. ~ Jay Cross

Social learning

Note: This is a re-post and update of a previous article, originally published as a White Paper (PDF). This web page should enable easier linking.

Why is social learning important for today’s enterprise?

George Siemens, educational technologist and researcher at Athabasca University, has succinctly explained the importance of social learning in the context of today’s workplace:

There is a growing demand for the ability to connect to others. It is with each other that we can make sense, and this is social. Organizations, in order to function, need to encourage social exchanges and social learning due to faster rates of business and technological changes. Social experience is adaptive by nature and a social learning mindset enables better feedback on environmental changes back to the organization.

The Internet has fundamentally changed how we communicate on a scale as large as the printing press or the advent of written language. Charles Jennings, of Duntroon Associates, explains why we need to move away from a focus on knowledge transfer and acquisition, an approach rooted in Plato’s academy:

We are moving to the world of the sons of Socrates, where dialogue and guidance are key competencies. It is a world where the capability to find information and turn it into knowledge at the point-of-need provides the key competitive advantage, where knowing the right people to ask the right questions of is more likely to lead to success than any amount of internally-held knowledge and skill.

Our relationship with knowledge is changing as our work becomes more intangible and complex. Notice how most value in today’s marketplace is intangible, with Google’s multi- billion dollar valuation an example of value in non-tangible processes that could be deflated with the development of a better search algorithm. Non-physical assets comprise about 80 percent of the value of Standard & Poor’s 500 US companies in leading industries.

From replaceable human resources to dynamic social groups

The manner in which we prepare people for work is based on the Taylorist perspective that there is only one way to do a job and that the person doing the work needs to conform to job requirements [F.W. Taylor, The Principles of Scientific Management, 1911]. Individual training, the core of corporate learning and development, is based on the premise that jobs are constant and those who fill them are interchangeable.

However, when you look at the modern organization, it is moving to a model of constant change, whether through mergers and acquisitions or as quick-start web-enabled networks. For the human resources department, the question becomes one of preparing people for jobs that don’t even exist. For example, the role of online community manager, a fast-growing field today, barely existed five years ago. Individual training for job preparation requires a stable work environment, a luxury no one has any more.

A collective, social learning approach, on the other hand, takes the perspective that learning and work happen as groups and how the group is connected (the network) is more important than any individual node within it.

MIT’s Peter Senge has made some important clarifications on terms we often use in looking at work, job classifications and training to support them.

Knowledge: the capacity for effective action. “Know how” is the only aspect of knowledge that really matters in life.

Practitioner: someone who is accountable for producing results.

Learning may be an individual activity but if it remains within the individual it is of no value whatsoever to the organization. Acting on knowledge, as a practitioner (work performance) is all that matters. So why are organizations in the individual learning (training) business anyway? Individuals should be directing their own learning. Organizations should focus on results.

Individual learning in organizations is basically irrelevant because work is almost never done by one person. All organizational value is created by teams and networks. Furthermore, learning may be generated in teams but even this type of knowledge comes and goes. Learning really spreads through social networks. Social networks are the primary conduit for effective organizational performance. Blocking, or circumventing, social networks slows learning, reduces effectiveness and may in the end kill the organization.

Towards Peeragogy

At DML Central Howard Rheingold shares his experiences with students collaborating using a range of social software, how groups interacted with each other and how they build a community of co-learners.

It’s not exactly a matter of making my own role of teacher obsolete. If we do this right, I’ll learn more about facilitating others to self-organize learning.

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Promoting innovation and evidence-based approaches to building resilience and responding to humanitarian crises

By Giorgio Bertini

At the end of 2011, the United Nations called for humanitarian assistance to be both scaled up and made ‘smarter’ as global emergencies continued to expand in both frequency and complexity.  DFID has launched a new strategy to meet this challenge.  The strategy, ‘Promoting innovation and evidence-based approaches to building resilience and responding to humanitarian crises’, aims to go beyond simply responding to crises by investing in approaches that promote resilience.

It tackles directly four key problems in the global community’s current response to crisis to humanitarian crises: First, that decision-makers do not have routine access to good information about risk; second that we don’t really know which interventions are most effective in reducing risk, saving lives and rebuilding livelihoods after crises; third, that there is insufficient capacity to build resilience or mount responses when disaster strikes; and forth, that decision-makers are not always using available evidence to inform their decisions.

Learning Analytics and Educational Data Mining

Erik Duval's Weblog

I’ve been thinking a bit about how some of our work on Learning Analytics compares with what folks in the Educational Data Mining community are doing. Might be interesting for some of you…

In my view, Learning Analytics is about collecting traces that learners leave behind and using those traces to improve learning. Educational Data Minging can process the traces algorithmically and point out patterns or compute indicators. My personal interest is more in using the traces in order to empower learners to be ‘better learners’.

My team focuses on building dashboards that visualize the traces in ways that help learners or teachers to steer the learning process. I like this approach because it focuses on helping people rather than on automating the process. It is inspired by a ‘modest computing’ approach where the technology is used to support what we want people to be good at (being aware…

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