Authentic Learning using Networked Communities

Jasmeet Virk compares his education with textbooks, libraries and teachers to the abundance of educational content now available on the web, including The Exploratorium and virtual field trips, looking at how communities of learning and inquiry based learning affect the learning place whilst using these types of resources.

In full

Advertisements

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.

In full

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.

Getting to know you: Introducing Teresa Penedo

Contributed by Liz Renshaw

Teresa wearing a helmetI teach in two places – e-learning with adults and children’s dance and gymnastics.

My name is Teresa. I am MSc. in Human Movement, and live in Brazil.

2. Why did you decide to participate Change11?

I thank my friend Daisy Grisolia who told me about the course. I immediately accepted and was very happy.

3.What were a couple of highlights so far in Mooc?

I learn a lot in the Mooc each week. The CCK11 was shorter than the Change 11 Mooc.

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

I am not afraid of the flow of information. I take what immediately catches my attention. I am happy in this tangle of information. I like the chaos because it represents numerous possibilities and freedom.

5. How are you going to build and sustain your Personal Learning Network?

I love blogs, and I intend to build a blogroll to continue reading.Teresa's students sitting round in a group

6. Do you see any disadvantages with any social networking tools?

I do not know any social networks that do not have friends! I like to experiment to see whether they are good or bad.

7. Did some presenters really resonated with you?

They all leave their share of knowledge. Some of the subjects were very new to me.

8. Anything else at all!

I love MOOCs.

Questions of creativity

David White reviews the Berkman Center ‘Youth and Digital Media: From Credibility to Information Quality’ report looking at interaction, information and context. He situates it within the Digital Visitors and Residents JISC project, noting that higher education should be analysing reports of engagement and learning behaviours amongst learners from schools and whether learning practices are changing as they enter university

In full

Social Networking In Schools: Educators Debate The Merits Of Technology In Classrooms

from The Huffington Post

Some critics are calling for social networking to be removed from classrooms because of privacy, bullying, harassment and inappropriate materials. The article looks at a variety of studies which are finding positive benefits in using social software making learning more relevant and connected. It looks at some initiatives which are trying to create safer environments and communities

The comments on the post feature different perspectives from students, teachers, IT / technologists working in education and others interested with some in favour of using social software, some looking at concerns relating to the issues above.

In full

Lurking or Legitimate Peripheral Participation

By Christy Tucker, CC/A/3.0

During the July 7 early #lrnchat about social media and social learning, there was a lot of discussion about lurking.

Can I Play?In response to the question “What are some ways you learn through social media that aren’t collaborative, with other people per-se?”

I replied:

I do a fair amount of lurking (ie “legitimate peripheral participation”)

I also retweeted this message by Colby Fordham:

We all like sharers, but there is a value in lurking. [You] have to [learn] the rules and important topics.

and Jane Bozarth replied

…and then stop lurking

Often, lurking is just a temporary phase, and you do jump in afterwards. But is that always necessary? I have lots of online communities where I sit on the periphery and lurk, long past the initial phase of learning how the community works.

A few examples:

  • YouTube: Most of the time on YouTube, I’m just watching. I’m not creating my own videos, commenting, sharing, or bookmarking. I have a few videos, but I’m lurking at least 90% of the time.
  • Kongregate: Technically, I am not a lurker on this gaming site by the strictest definition, since I do rate games. I read through the forums and chat  sometimes, but rarely jump into the conversation.
  • News: I don’t get a newspaper in “dead tree” format; I get most of my news online. I read several newspapers and blogs, all of which have commenting or community features. Most of the time I don’t even read the user discussions, and I never add my own comments.
  • Slashdot: I skim the RSS feed, but I don’t have an account and have never commented.
  • Wikipedia: At one point, I contributed quite a bit (2500+ edits), but it’s been over a year since I’ve been active.

I learn on all those sites. (Yes, even Kongregate: I learn game strategies on the forums. What I learn is of limited use in the rest of my life, but it’s useful for my goals when I’m on that site.) I’ll be honest; I’m not really interested in getting sucked into the high drama conversations on most of those sites. Wikipedia, for example, can be pretty intense and nasty. It’s the only place online I’ve actually been directly threatened (although there was no actual danger, it was still disconcerting). If I’m going to be part of conversations, I’d rather they be part of the learning community, or at least more productive than many of the conversations at the sites above.

Would I be a better gamer if I was active in the Kongregate forums? Most likely. But I’m not looking for a high level of expertise in gaming. So why should I expend my energy there, when peripheral participation gets me enough expertise to meet my personal goals?

In the #lrnchat conversation, Jane called this behavior “taking,” and she’s right—I’m reading and taking advantage of the resources without giving back. I give back here, but I don’t give back in every community that I use. My giving is very uneven, and sometimes I just lurk.

Is it wrong to lurk, or is it appropriate to have different levels of participation in different online communities? Should we exclude anyone from reading the RSS feeds of our blogs if they aren’t commenting,  bookmarking, +1-ing, etc?

In Digital Habitats, Etienne Wenger, Nancy White, and John D. Smith call lurking “legitimate peripheral participation”:

From a community of practice perspective, lurking is interpreted as “legitimate peripheral participation,” a crucial process by which communities offer learning opportunities to those on the periphery. Rather than a simple distinction between active and passive members, this perspective draws attention to the richness of the periphery and the learning enabled (or not) by it. (p. 9)

Do the people active in a community learn more than those on the edges? Yes, I do believe that. But if your goal isn’t to be an expert, peripheral participation may give you enough learning to meet your needs. You can learn via social media without it actually being social learning.

What do you think? Are there communities where you are in the center of the action, but others where you’re on the periphery? Is there a place for lurking in learning communities, or should everyone be an active participant? If we’re designing learning with social media, can we focus just on social learning, or can we also support use of social media for peripheral participation?

Image credit:

Can I play? by jaxxon

A day in our home education life

by Glory Bea, HomeSchool Co-op

At the prompting of Jaime at Simple Homeschool, I’m posting about a day in our life — with a mom (me), dad, 4-1/2-year-old Esther, 3-year-old Jedediah, and nearly 2-year-old George.

Our 3 munchkins are concentrating on their own work at the table.
Wild and crazy kids playing outside
— the most important element of our curriculum!

Sometimes, our days flow so wonderfully that I can almost hear the angels singing. At other times (and almost always the same day), there is such chaos that if most people walked in, they’d suggest I send them to public school. (Gasp!)

That’s no matter, though, because I know I’m called to lead my children’s education based at home. Further, my Lord is good and merciful, so we carry on and try to do it better the next day.

And the Sun Came Up on the Farm
our “daily flow” timeline

And so our day begins, and it’s generally in line with the morning routine I posted at the blog post about Our Daily Flow.

Many days before the sun rises, our 3-year-old boy, Jedediah, finds his way into our bed for cuddles.

My husband departs for work.

The children are laughing (usually) and getting themselves dressed, well at least one of the older two.

These days, it takes someone crying — usually the babe — for me to rise. I do, then I get him from his crib, change his diaper, and get him some fresh milk.

Breakfast, Bible …. & Sometimes Mr Rogers

I begin breakfast, sometimes with a kiddo’s help — especially for pouring water and oats for oatmeal.

If the children are happy, I finish breakfast and get it on the table. If one or more are not happy while I’m preparing breakfast, I put on our old friend, Mr. Rogers. (You can view old episodes at PBS.)

We eat breakfast together, during which I read aloud at least one Bible story. Lately, I’ve been reading from Tomie dePaola’s Book of Bible Stories that I picked up at a library book sale for 50 cents. We also like to read Arch Books, Read-Aloud Bible Stories by Ella K. Lindvall, and from some other Bible story sources.

Morning: Dress, Groom & Clean Up

After breakfast, we all “do” our “morning habits.” You can see what they are in this post on Habit Cards, which actually solidified this routine for us after referencing them for about a week.

George ran off when I was getting him dressed.

I tell them we can’t do anything else until these “habits” are accomplished. They have completely embraced it, and so everything flows through this part of the day — usually.