Reflections on #realwplearn chat: Breaking Down Silos

David Kelly regularly takes part in the weekly #lrnchat on Twitter and also #realwplearn . Their recent topic was silos and he notes that many learning professionals have already encountered risks of organisational silos where similar information can exist in different areas to solve similar problems – performance support is only taking account of one at a time, but bears the cost of both.

The question of silos ultimately comes down to one of culture, and can be defined by how you ask the top most question about information sharing. Are you asking if you should leave the door open, or are you asking if you should open the door? The latter reflects a silo mentality. If you want to break down silos, you’ve got to start by leaving doors open, both metaphorically and literally.

In full


Getting to know you: Introducing Jonas Bäckelin

Introducing Jonas Bäckelin, Contributed by Liz Renshaw:

1.    Can you tell us a bit about yourself Jonas?

photo of JonasMy name is Jonas Bäckelin and I’m living in Balchik by the Black Sea Coast of Bulgaria.  My professional career started with my qualifications in environmental chemistry and marine biology, followed by working as a teacher with specialization in didactics and ‘Information and Communication Technology’ (ICT). I’m now focusing on my thesis for my Master of Arts and Social Science in ‘Adult Learning and Global Change’ (ALGC), with the working title “Navigating Distributed Knowledge with the use of Web Tools”. My commitment to a new level of teacher training curriculum has involved me in the development of coherent strategies to fully integrate the use of computers as pedagogical tools in the classroom.

In 2012 I’ve started eduToolkit a ‘Grassroots Organization’ promoting ‘Teachers Open Online Learning’ (TOOL) for Professional Development. We investigate the concept of ‘The Networked Teacher’ and find out more about ‘Networked Literacy & Fluency’ in education. I’m developing our first course with the help of WikiEducator called “Certified Networked Teacher – The Use of WebTools” and we will use assessment badges through Peer-2-Peer University (P2PU).

2. Why did you decide to participate in Change11?

A: My fellow students from Canada in ALGC introduced me to the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) “CCK08-Connectivism and Connective Knowledge”, but it took me until the third offering of  CCK11 facilitated by Stephen Downes, George Siemens and Dave Cormier until I was participating as a for non-credit student.  I got bitten by the MOOC bug, completed the eduMOOC and enrolled as ‘Network Mentor’ in Alec Couros course “EC&I831-Social Media and Open Education”.  Continuing with the MOOC ‘Change – Education, Learning and Technology’ in September was only natural as an ‘early adopter’.

3. What have been a couple of highlights so far in the Mooc?

A:  We are moving several frontiers simultaneously and I’m starting to realize that a single teacher can’t cope with the scope of change in education.  Some of the highlight are Mobile Learning (Zoraini Wati Abas), Collective learning (Allison Littlejohn), Rhizomatic Learning (Dave Cormier), Slow learning (Clark Quinn), Authentic learning (Jan Herrington).  The general trend is that fragmented and distributed knowledge can be managed through teaching, but we need online resources and tools.

4. How do you deal with the abundance of information in the Mooc?

A: I try to pay attention to outlines or key distinctions in order to create my own learning outcomes.  When listening to recordings or reading blog posts and articles I use our traditional tool Pen & Paper to create a concept map.  During CCK11 I created a workflow where I summarized my progress weekly in Insights, Thoughts and Questions.  This model has proven useful for monthly updates in the Change MOOC.  With help of examples and blog posts from other participants I like to make comparisons and find relationships – Remix and Mash-Up.

5. How do you go about building and sustaining your Personal Learning Network?

A: My struggle involves finding the balance between Practice & Reflection (i.e. blogging) and Model & Demonstrate (i.e. facilitating learning) and my main focus is on how I will become a node that creates learning resources for teacher’s open online learning.  The connections with experts in the ‘knowledge domain’ have grown into my ‘Personal Learning Network’, but the self-generating and sustainable networks come from expectations and feedback among peers and friends. NEXT PAGE

If You’re Human, You’re a Slow Learner #change11

By Andrew Neuendorf

Sometimes the Web can make a beautiful, serendipitous nexus. Whilst pursuing two seemingly separate lines of thought in two seemingly separate universes (integral philosophy on Beams and Struts and education theory on the Change MOOC) I discovered a connection that makes me a little less schizophrenic and a little more dialectic.

Here’s my little self-absorbed tale of discovery: Jeremy Johnson commented on my Beams and Struts article (“The Singularity is Near-Sighted”) and recommended William Irwin Thompson’s wonderfully-titled  “The Borg or Borges?” Here Thompson revisits one of his key concepts from Coming Into Being, that consciousness is a delay-space where different inputs from the senses are cross-referenced and their interactions stabilized, giving rise to a unique emergent self-awareness. Time is sort of slowed-down so that some of its components can get to know each other, exchange echoes, and establish a perspective.

In other words, human consciousness is the result of slowing down.

As Thompson so eloquently puts it:

Fast is fine for the programmed crystalline world of no surprises and no discoveries, but slow is better for the creative world of erotic and intellectual play.

This fits nicely with Clark Quinn’s Week 13 presentation on Slow Learning. Quinn writes in his opening blog post:

Really, I’m looking to start matching our technology more closely to our brains. Taking a page from the slow movement (e.g. slow X, where X = food, sex, travel, …), I’m talking about slow learning, where we start distributing our learning in ways that match the ways in which our brains work: meaningfulness, activation and reactivation, not separate but wrapped around our lives, etc.

Slow is the way to go. We’ve gotten so used to outsourcing our cognition to machines, to opening multiple tabs, and craving faster connection speeds that we’ve overlooked the exquisite work of evolution. Some see the brain as a vehicle for rapid computation. Perhaps that steam pouring out of our ears isn’t mere by-product. Maybe we’ll slow down and see it’s really the driving spirit, and we’ve been blowing it off and letting it dissipate as waste. Not the ghost in the machine, but the ghostly machine.

Forget machine. Forget ghost. We could call it, to paraphrase Yeats, a sustained glimpse out of Spiritus Mundi. Or it could simply be the dance of complexity teaching its steps to the dancer, inviting improvisation for the first time.

Thompson says it best, in conjunction with John Keats:

The field of consciousness has more to do with slowness and a higher dimensionality, even beyond the three of the physical volume of the brain, in which hyperspheres— or some other higher dimensional topology — involve simultaneity in a neuronal synchrony — in a pattern. A mind, in the opening words of Keats’s ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’, is a ‘still unravished bride of quietness’, a ‘foster-child of silence and slow time’.

And now for the ironic part: I have made this connection between the cultural historian and mystically-mind Thompson and learning technology strategist Clark Quinn because of the internet, because I was taking on more than one field of study at once, and because of Twitter, blogs, and .pdf files.

In other words, I’m writing about slowing down because I’ve been living fast.

If there is a lesson here, it’s that we need a new term and a new understanding for how a person can live and think and create in relation to technology without having to adopt one of the two polarities of Luddite or Techie. If you’ve read my Beams and Struts article you know I’m skeptical of The Singularity. Still, our lives are interconnected with technology, and likely made better because of it. It’s a matter of how one stands in relation to technology. Is it a tool, or are you?

The writings of both Thompson and Quinn suggest giving precedence (and prescience) to human consciousness over its hyper technological extensions.

Evolution of Software Development Education – Part I: Beginning of Computing and Computing Education

by  Sanjay Goel ,

Computing in the form of processing: understanding, creation, manipulation, communication, expression, and rendering of symbols has always been a very important natural activity of human mind. Though the use of the term computing is not limited to be used in the limited context of processing of formal mathematical symbols, computer software transcends such boundaries to support processing of diverse range of symbols. With the invention of computing machines, the field of computing has advanced beyond one’s imagination. Computing has transformed many aspects of everyday lives for a vast majority of mankind. The role of computing has been evolving from enhancing efficiencies through otherwise by-passable support systems to creating real-time mission critical systems. The initial application domains driving computing till 1960s were code breaking, engineering calculations, scientific simulation, as well as repetitive data processing in defense, space, government, insurance, banking, and some other large business organizations. Some attempts of language translation and information retrieval were also made even in 1950s. Outgrowing the initial goal of doing repetitive mathematical calculations, computers have already permeated almost all spheres of human activities even including arts and sports. The socio-cultural effect of computing and communication technology is much wider, deeper, and faster than the effect of other technologies. Computing has also been used to expand our understanding of mind and reasoning.

India’s decimal number system inspired ninth century Persian mathematician Mohammed ibn Musa al-Khowarizmi to write a book on calculating using this number system. Based on his name, Algorism slowly started referring to arithmetic operations in this number system. These algorisms were strictly mechanical procedures to manipulate symbols. They could be carried out by an ignorant person mechanically following simple rules, with no understanding of the theory of operation, requiring no cleverness and resulting in a correct answer. The word Algorithm was introduced by Markov in 1954. Before the 1920s, the word computer was used for human clerks that performed computations. In 1936, Turing and Zuse independently proposed their models of the computing machine that could perform any calculation that can be performed by humans. In the late 1940s, the use of electronic digital computing machinery based on stored program architecture became common.

Late 1950s saw the arrival of high level languages. The Association of computing Machinery (ACM) was founded by Berkeley in 1947. It started its first journal in 1954. Mathematical logic and electrical engineering provided the foundation for building modern computers. The personnel training responsibility was largely taken up by the manufacturers themselves. Most early programmers were math graduates, many of them were women. In the 1950s, a large numbers of private computer schools emerged to fill the burgeoning demand. The word software was coined by John Tukey, famous statistician, in 1958. The words computer science, information systems, information technology, system analysis, and system design were being used even before. Dunn of Boeing  defined Information Technology as a body of related disciplines which lead to methods, techniques, and equipment for establishing and operating information processing systems. He also provided a simple definition of information systems as a connective link between five basic management functions of defining objectives, planning, gathering resources, execution, and control. In 1968, the computer science study group of NATO Science Committee coined the word software engineering to imply the need to transform software design and development into an engineering-type discipline. ‘

Till 1970’s, computing was often regarded as a subfield of one or more of a mixture of disciplines of mathematics, operation research, electrical engineering, statistics, industrial engineering, and management. Many of existing undergraduate programs of these disciplines were modified to accommodate some of the naturally fitting aspects of computer science. Mathematics departments taught practice and science of programming and numerical analysis. The electrical engineering department emphasized on design and construction of electronic digital computer, and management schools paid more attention of design of information systems. Initially, masters and later undergraduate degree programs and departments of computer science were emerging as offshoots of the mathematics departments in colleges of science and arts. Stanford established its computer science department in 1962, and by the late 1960s many universities in United States had started computer science departments. Concurrently, the management schools and others interested in business data processing applications focused on information systems, and started developing these programs. The engineering schools offered computer technology and computer science programs, and also computer as an option in various existing programs.



Sweden debuts first classroom-less school

via Smart Planet

Vittra, an education company in Sweden have removed the classroom completely – being interested in

“breakdown of physical and metaphorical class divisions as a fundamental step to promoting intellectual curiosity, self-confidence, and communally responsible behavior”

The students are able to wander around using laptops and other technologies in their own learning spaces. With some wonderful photos too:

Google’s offices around the world are also legendary in experimenting with physical spaces, this is their Stockholm office from 2009

Getting to Know You: How I make time for social, networked learning

By Liz Renshaw

“Ever wondered about the participants in Change11 and wanted to know more about them? I have sometimes pondered about these people from different corners of the globe? What brings them to Mooc- land at this moment in time? How do they go about managing their own learning in this open environment?

I floated the idea about doing participant profiles with the crew working on this blog calendar. The idea started to grow, and I tentatively approached some people in the Change11 network. With some guiding questions to help shape their responses everyone was willing to ‘give it a go’. Their posts attest to the rich diversity of life experiences that Change 11 participants bring to our network. They speak in open and honest voices and I hope that you find their stories as engaging as I have. A big thanks to all participants who have invested much time and energy in making these features possible.”

Today we welcome to the Blog Calendar world Brainy Smurf …………………..

Stressed out? Overloaded with information?  Never enough time in the day?  I am proud to say that’s not me and here’s why:

I choose to spend a fair chunk of my day wandering like a knowmad through the events and artifacts of #change11, #ds106 and #cck12.  I have no worries about juggling three massive open online courses at once.  I know that whatever I get out of each of them is exactly proportional to whatever I put into them.  A little taste here, more in-depth looks there, no problem.

Creativity through connectivity

Although I am a learning ‘designer’ in the public sector, I don’t think of myself as overly creative or artistic.  I tend to be more detail-oriented, linear and logical so reviewing The Daily Create assignments in ds106 is one way that I have purposefully immersed myself in the company of new people and new ideas, especially ones that seem like wild tangents from my own.  I am able to connect the dots in many new combinations now and that sounds pretty creative to me.

I find that connective learning repeatedly triggers serendipity that draws me back day after day: that delightful unearthing of little gems of insight that I likely wouldn’t have been exposed to by other means.  It’s the payoff for being open to learning and working as if I am sampling from a huge buffet prepared by dozens of chefs, not eating from a fixed menu.

Now that I’ve chosen to experiment with HootSuite and Diigo and live Twitter events such as #lrnchat, I find it hard to remember a time without these tools.  I feel nauseous at the idea of being restricted to email overload and cluttered shared drives as my only sources of knowledge.  How do people actually get anything done that way?  For me, a personal learning network that is driven by collaborative, customizable technology has huge Twimpacts on my week.  It’s like having a set of living encyclopedias at my desk that are always opened to a helpful page.

#change11 Lower layers of connectivism?

By Matthias Melcher

I am confused. In the beginning, connectivism was considered on three layers: neural, conceptual, and social/ external. While the latter, topmost, layer has become increasingly popular, the lower layers seem to fade away from researchers’ interest. Recently even Stephen seemed to focus on just the social layer: “the central claim of connectivism, that the knowledge is found in the connections between people with each other”. What has become of the other two layers?

One quick answer would be that knowledge is identical on all three layers, but this is exactly what I cannot wrap my head around.

OK I can accept that the borders between the layers may sometimes blur. The connections between concepts are so similar to neural connections that, for example, the concept of “grandmother” seems just as if it was located in a singlegrandmother neuron. And when thinking of her cookies recipe, this external resource (layer 3) might sloppily be equated with the concept/ idea of her cookies (layer 2), and I (layer 3) “connect to the idea” (layer 2). But I cannot similarly equate some knowledge in a society with the knowledge in a person. And therefore I cannot picture the social knowledge as residing in the connections between people, in the same way as individual knowledge clearly is located in the connections between the concepts, or finally, between the neurons. The very word “knowledge” simply sounds different to me in the different contexts. (Perhaps this due to my ESL limitations and the different usage in German.)

The most striking difference shows when the social knowledgegrows, i. e., when “learning” by the society occurs: Saying to “learn” something that nobody yet knows, sounds for me as a stretched, alien usage of the word where everybody would normally speak of research, or scientific or scholarly progress. And the resulting knowledge appears different, too.

In the sense of research, “learning” of the entire society would involve a shared goal, i. e. it would be collaborative while normal learning together may be cooperative. And of course, the obvious connotations of societal knowledge are much different, as well: The body of human knowledge is usually thought of as the stock of many libraries, artefacts, external resources — even though I am aware how much important knowledge does not fit to this simplistic view, is not codified and explicit but implicit and distributed: It takes the combined tacit knowledge of many people to build an airplane; Trusting the experiential knowledge of many generations is foundational for our world view; I acknowledge the importance of online resonance between persons, and I even understand howdiscussions can literally reside between people. But I cannot grasp societal knowledge as lying between people in the same way as individual knowledge resides in the connections between concepts or neurons. Using the same word “knowledge” for both phenomena, appears to me as too stretched, or as a lifelessabstraction, while the common neuronal metaphor can be much easier understood.

Any hint or reference is welcome.

Sea Change in Knowledge and Education

by Leslie Poston, Magnitude Media

In this post Leslie discusses the relationships between return on investment in education, college and expected employment and highlights examples of how schools are moving beyond initial adoption of social media so that

“access to knowledge in your pocket can break the institution of “school” out of the concrete, rigid shell it lives in and turn it into organic knowledge that students yearn for”

Are we moving towards plugging into the matrix and learning like Neo?