Sunday, October 26, 2008

Instructional Design and Connectivism

The exponential increase and ever changing nature of information through hyper-connectivity means that we are required to engage in lifelong learning to stay up to date in our fields of expertise or employment. This learning and professional development needs to be self-sustaining, and traditional linear learning design models do not always provide this.

Designing learning around web 2.0 principles can provide individuals with a means of staying current whilst catering for their intuitive ‘what’s in it for mean’ mentality.

Conole (2008) describes a number of models by which learning design can be built around using the structure of social networking sites, as “sharing is a fundamental human activity” (McLeod, 2007), and “social networks consist of people who are connected by a shared object.”

Weller (2008a) defines a social object as: “something (it can be real or virtual) that facilitate conversation, and thus social interaction”, and is the basis of popular web 2.0 sites like Flickr, Delicious, Facebook and Twitter, by making activities such as uploading, viewing and sharing as easy as possible, and recognizing that an individual’s profile on these sites are also ‘social objects’, as they are a “constructed representation around which interaction takes place” and are social objects in their own right.

Knorr-Cetina (2001 - Objectual practice) states “that objects have become increasingly important in today’s society and that objects are increasingly replacing and mediating human relationships.”

“In education, the primary social object is content and … the educational value is not in the content itself but the social interaction, which occurs around the content.” (Weller, 2008a)

Engeström (2008) has five principles for design
i. Clearly define the social object your service is built around. ie designs, resources, tools and user profiles.
ii. Define the verbs that users perform on the objects, so that is it clear what the site is for ie ‘finding’ and ‘sharing’.
iii. Make the objects shareable and easy to use; they encourage users to input social objects, link to other related social networking sites, have interactive design widgets, and runnable learning design sequences, allow social objects to be virally spread through different communication channels and to different communities, offer deep-level integration with a number of other sites/communities and dynamic sharing across the sites appropriate objects, tagging
iv. Turn invitations into gifts. Provide fun interactive sessions, acknowledge, user generated favourite designs and linking to other events and activities, prizes for the best entries, will add dynamically to the user’s profile
v. Charge the publishers, not the spectators (may have less relevance in educationally social learning design)

Bouman (2007) considers other factors into this design framework: that which encourages socialization amongst the learning community: accommodating both the evolution of practices and the inclusion of newcomers; ensuring individual identity is also important ie mechanisms to enable the development of identities; people are more inclined to use software systems that resemble their daily routines, language and practices; metaphors and structures that mimic real life practices are likely to be more successful. … “The framework is based around four design domains: enabling practice, mimicking reality, building identity and actualising self.”

Siemens (2008) recognizes that the context of the learning will dictate how effective this style of learning design will be, and that traditional educational structures (ie timetabling, funding etc) will need the capacity to adapt in order to support them.

Conole (2008) also recognizes that “there is an inherent tension between the rhetoric of Web 2.0 and current educational practices. For example, today’s digital environment is characterised by speed and immediacy; … This seems contradictory to traditional notions of education; the need to reflect, to build cumulatively on existing knowledge and develop individual understanding over time.” and that we will need systems of ‘slow learning’ such as is happening in the ‘slow food’ movement, and that “if information is abundantly available, surely assessment processes which focus primarily on knowledge recall are inappropriate”.
Although there are working examples of learning design around web 2.0 principles, (Couros 2008; Phelps, 2003), I think it will require an individual educator to experience designing some learning themselves to truly understand this design process. Educators should be encouraged through supportive sites like Wikieducator and Cloudworks, where educators are encouraged to “find other people's learning and teaching ideas, designs and experiences” and share their own.

I would be interested to know about more learning examples which use a non-linear approach to their design.

CCK08 - week 7 – Instructional design and connectivism

Other useful resources for this week:

Notes from readings:
New Schemas for Mapping Pedagogies and TechnologiesGráinne ConoleSchema (approaches or ways of thinking)- an outline or image universally applicable to a general conception, under which it is likely to be presented to the mind;

There is an inherent tension between the rhetoric of Web 2.0 and current educational practices. For example, today’s digital environment is characterised by speed and immediacy; the ability to access a vast amount of information at the click of a mouse, coupled with multiple communication channels and social networks. This seems contradictory to traditional notions of education; the need to reflect, to build cumulatively on existing knowledge and develop individual understanding over time.

‘slow learning’ as in ‘slow food’ movement

if information is abundantly available, surely assessment processes which focus primarily on knowledge recall are inappropriate?

user-generated content, user-added value and aggregated network effects … the impact of Web 2.0 on education has been less dramatic than its impact on other spheres of society – use for social purposes, supporting niche communities, collective political action, amateur journalism and social commentary. … Web 1.0 tools: whereas businesses transformed their systems and practices through embracing the potential of technologies, educational systems did not. This difference is due to a complex set of factors – technological, organisational and pedagogical.

A pedagogical framework for mapping tools in use – individual vs social; information vs experience; passive vs active ie … An e-portfolio used as part of a nurse-practitioner’s course as evidence of the students’ work-based experience, would be individual, active and experience-based.Mapping pedagogical principles - thinking and reflection; conversation and interaction; experience and activity; evidence and demonstration.

personalised tools verses institutional tools, between having integrated institutional systems and loosely coupled systems

we need new ways of thinking, not just to map tools to pedagogy, but to think about institutional structures and processes, to map changing roles, and to guide new thinking on strategic policies to guide the direction of change

Cloudworks: Social networking for learning design .doc file – Conole
one of the key challenges in encouraging more innovative uses of technologies is getting teachers to share designs … a social networking site for design – Cloudworks – which is built on the notion of ‘social objects’ associated with design and is applying web 2.0 principles to encourage widespread use and sustainability

Cloudworks - ‘object-orientated social networking’, for sharing learning ideas and designs
A key issue is sustainability, end-users rarely add resources; the sites usually require an investment in terms of someone entering resources and maintaining the repository.
teachers lack the necessary skills to assess the value of different technologies and then incorporating them into their teaching practice.

methodology consists of four interconnected facets:

• understanding design - through gathering empirical evidence about design,
• visualising design - as a means of articulating and representing,
• guiding design - with appropriate scaffolds and support,
• sharing design - to inspire and encourage uptake and reuse.

social networks consist of people who are connected by a shared object.

Cloudworks is built on the premise that there is a network of social objects associated with learning design – tools, resources, approaches to design and people and the site is designed to facilitate connections between these objects. There are five types of objects within Cloudworks:

- clouds – the practice of learning design
- stormclouds – request for help
- resources – actual resources to use in the learning design
- tools – learning design tools – guide through design process
- people & communities – the network

Tagging occurs around pedagogy, tools and discipline … and using RSS feeds

Engeström’s definition of the term social objects and his arguments for the importance of social objects as the key mediating artefacts that make social networks work. … ‘object orientated sociality’ … Knorr-Cetina argues that objects have become increasingly important in today’s society and that objects are increasingly replacing and mediating human relationships.

Weller (2008a) provides a useful definition of a social object as: “something (it can be real or virtual) that facilitate conversation, and thus social interaction” … He argues that in education the primary social object is content and that the educational value is not in the content itself but the social interaction, which occurs around the content. … make the activities of uploading, viewing and sharing as easy as possible … Profiles ARE social objects. They're not a real person - they're a constructed representation around which interaction takes place - a specific kind of social object.

Demsey (2008): The linking theme is that people connect and share themselves through 'social objects', pictures, books, or other shared interests, and that successful social networks are those which form around such social objects

Stutzman’s (2007) distinction between ego-centric and object-centric networks; myspace and facebook are ego-centric, where flcikr and Youtube are object-centric. … there needs to be a reason for people to connect together and to want to continue connecting.

McLeod (2007), who argues that sharing is a fundamental human activity … The most important word on the internet is not "Search". The most important word on the internet is "Share". Sharing is the driver. Sharing is the DNA. … The interesting thing about the Social Object is the not the object itself, but the conversations that happen around them.

Engeström - forward five principles for design
i. Clearly define the social object your service is built around. ie designs, resources, tools and user profiles.
ii. Define the verbs that users perform on the objects, so that is it clear what the site is for. ‘find’ and ‘share’.
iii. Make the objects shareable. easy to use; there encourage users to input social objects, link to other related social networking sites. interactive design widgets ad runnable learning design sequences. social objects be virally spread through different communication channels and to different communities. deep-level integration with a number of other sites/communities and dynamic sharing across the sites appropriate objects. Tagging
iv. Turn invitations into gifts. fun interactive sessions - user generated favourite designs and linking to other events and activities - prizes for the best entries, - dynamically added to the users profile.
v. Charge the publishers, not the spectators.

Cavalho (2007) comes up with a related set of ten principles for social design (KISS – Keep it Social Stupid, Define the objects of sociality, Objects invite play, To play, to stroke, Multiply the actions, Asynchronous interaction, Mind the bacon, Set the ‘dun’ bar higher, Reputation display and Building social capital).

Bouman et al. (2007) have developed a design framework based on sociality: accommodate both the evolution of practices and the inclusion of newcomers; individual identity is also important so there needs to be a mechanism to enable the development of identities; people are more inclined to use software systems that resemble their daily routines, language and practices; metaphors and structures that mimic real life practices are likely to be more successful. … The framework is based around four design domains: enabling practice, mimicking reality, building identity and actualising self.

Bouman et al. (2007) users value social software that adds value in terms of enabling or creating practices that are important to them … use of mechanisms and metaphors associated with ordinary real life … building identity social criteria are important – in terms of building trust and creating a sense of belonging. … ‘what’s in it for me’ … aligning individual interests … there is also a needs to shift and change practice

Instructional Design and Connectivism (George Siemens) 23 minute presentation
The primacy of the connection - Learner has greater control over content.

Understanding how and why connections form

How attributes of connections reflect learning

Neural, physical and social connections

Designing learning – historically - sequence of content, interactions, space/ecology of learning – teacher centred rather than learner centred – with a content focus –

The context of the learning will dictate how the learning will be designed. Systemic issues of timetabling, funding etc will also influence the learning design.

Capacity to adapt – the way we approach learning, how we stay up to date with ever changing – keeping current

Chaos and complexity – metaphors to think about the learning – learning is a lot more chaotic and complex than what traditional learning systems imply/design for – need to overcome the linear nature of traditional instructional/educational design

Patterning – quickly recognize patterns
Wayfinding – finding your way
Sensemaking – making sense of the information/learning

Connecting with learning through a variety of distributed approaches

Linear vs distributed learning design –

Focus on content, context and connections

Domain 1 - Analysis and validation – learning development cycle – stages – 1. Analysis 2. Evaluation & Representation 3. Validation
Domain 2 - Ecology design and network fostering – ecology, content, networks – design, develop, pilot, evaluate
Domain 3 - Adaptive Learning – skills/process for adaption – currency, developing skills, situated, tools, needs
Domain 4 - Review and Evalation – assess/evaluate – design, learning, content, process, revise/adjust

Impacting factors: context, readiness, tools, concepts, resources, change management, strategy, time

Cloud model of design -

WIIFM – designing learning around web 2.0 principles – self sustaining learning and development –

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Complexity, Chaos and Randomness

Ephemeralization, the ongoing increase in efficiency or productivity of all processes involving matter, energy and information, (Heylighen) has enabled an endless follow of information via the internet to occur, but at the same time created concepts such as ‘information overload’, ‘data smog’ or ‘spam’.

This ever increasing growth of information is limited by the amount of information people can actually process, creating ‘Information Fatigue Syndrome’ causing “anxiety, poor decision-making, difficulties in memorizing and remembering, reduced attention span, reduced work satisfaction and strained relations with collaborators (Waddington, 1996; Shenk, 1997; Wurman, 1990).” (Heylighen)

The ability to distinguish and filter out unreliable and irrelevant information is important (information hygiene), and an individual must also understand the impact of their contribution to ‘data smog’ – as “the cost for the sender (of information) is minimal, the cost for the receivers, while individually almost negligible, is collectively huge”. (Heylighen)

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Intelligence Amplification (IA) through computer generated “augmented” thinking and support systems, and Collective Intelligence, such as modeling how tribes of ants interact as a collective whole, there is potential to extend the limitation of human potential. Collaborative filtering (ranking) and the semantic web, whereby the web learns new links between information sources in the same way the human brain learns to create associations between information will also help support the human mind’s ability to process the avalanche of information available to it.

Although technology has allowed us to access information more readily and educate people more cheaply, leading to the understanding for the need for ‘life long learning’ to keep up-to-date with the ever increasing developments of information in our own field of expertise and society as a whole, the inertia of individuals and organizations to take a long time to adapt to a new technology and to learn how to use it productively, may explain many educators have yet adopted technology into their current teaching practices.

The adoption of technology to support the limitations of the human brain in this information age requires a major paradigm shift in educational practices, as the ability to “autonomously analyse problems, find relevant information, synthesize the results, and thus develop new knowledge” is what is far more required than that of rote, regurgitated learning.

An understanding of Chaos and Complexity theories can help enable this shift in education. By understanding that like the weather, learning is too complex and unpredictable to be restricted and guided by linear curriculum and training paths. And by facilitating rather than directing the power of learning, we educators will better understand that “the two learning systems and cultures, that of school and of the Web, are fundamentally different; one has a basis in control and structure, and the other is seemingly unstructured and chaotic” (
Phelps) and a chaotic, complex approach better reflects how ‘real’ learning occurs.

Just like in the non-linear learning process of child rearing, where a divergent and complex learning cycle occurs through trial, reflection, research and more trialling, and where one course of action and direction is never sufficient, learning occurs when its needed and sourced from a range of different means, with the best lessons learnt are those through trying, investigation and reflection.

CCK08 - week 6 – Complexity, Chaos and Randomness

Developing Online From Simplicity toward Complexity: Going with the Flow of Non-Linear Learning
Video Lecture: Complexity Science
Complexity and Information Overload in Society .pdf
Complexity, Chaos, and Emergence (George Siemens)

Other useful resources for this week:

Notes from readings:
Reflection halfway through the course – George Siemens
All learning begins with a connection – what are the attributes of those connections?

Developing Online From Simplicity toward Complexity: Going with the Flow of Non-Linear LearningRenata Phelps
‘net generation’ - characterised as chaotic, constructivist, integrated and multi-faceted, and where ‘play’ is central

…two learning systems and cultures, that of school and of the Web, are fundamentally different; one has a basis in control and structure, and the other is seemingly unstructured and chaotic.

Complexity theory is concerned with open, non-linear systems and is essentially a formal attempt to question how coherent and purposive wholes emerge from the interactions of simple and sometimes non-purposive components (Lissack, 1999). At its most humble, it attempts to explain the ‘big consequences of little things’.

‘Curriculum becomes a process of development rather than a body of knowledge to be covered or learned, ends become beacons guiding this process, and the course itself transforms the indeterminate into the determinate’ (Doll, 1989a, p.250)

… many young people, provided with access to the Web, adopt learning approaches consistent with complexity theory. Their learning is ‘naturally’ non-linear.

… complexity’s recognition that it is impossible to break down learning and teaching into determinist and predictable simple elements of knowledge.

Integral to the process of fostering self-directed and life-long learning was an emphasis on self-directed goal setting, but also on acknowledging and embracing ‘emergent’ learning – ‘you don’t always know what you don’t know’!

… learning cannot and should not be goal-directed all the time. ‘Sometimes one should be satisfied with a global, general learning goal and let the learning environment guide the discoveries’ (p.292). …. not only guide but prompt such learning ‘discoveries’.

Non-linear learning was perceived to be more ‘authentic’ than linear learning and more consistent with life-long learning.

While rapid and easy progress through linear and defined content may be reassuring to the learner, little learning may actually be taking place.

… simplification of complex subject matter is a ‘conspiracy of convenience’…. providing realistic levels of complexity in the learning environment can actually make learning easier … Rather than simplifying the environment, the goal of educators should be to aid the learner to function in rich learning environments…. flexible, open, disruptive, uncertain and unpredictable and should accept tension, anxiety and problem creating as the norm.

four-module structure: Thinking, Using, Applying and Creating…. Find ‘windows’ Facts, Skills, Activities, Use in Schools and Reflection…. encapsulated an approach of ‘play’ and exploration.

… some students required or preferred foundational understandings (facts), or foundational skills, while others were comfortable with experiential learning and needed to be challenged to set and achieve ambitious learning goals, and to ‘test out’ their knowledge (activities).

They had more choice about what they learnt, but more importantly, how they learnt it. Students would be encouraged to jump from activities to facts or skills as required. Students were encouraged to identify their own goals; goals that were challenging for them personally. All students were required to demonstrate progress, no matter what their initial level of skill and knowledge. While frameworks were embedded in the materials to support them to set these goals, they were prompted to select content and activities which were most appropriate in achieving their goals and to document, through reflection, the resultant, personally significant learning.

… the Web is … a big tangled spider’s web of information. Bits of it lead to other bits and there is no ‘start’ and ‘finish’.

think about how we learn in contexts other than schools and universities.

Parent analogy:
- no single course you can do on ‘how to become a good parent’
- They don’t know everything there is to know, but when issues or challenges arise they seek out information and advice, and adopt strategies that they feel are appropriate.
- they reflect on whether their strategies are working or not and will seek other information, or adopt other strategies if they don’t.
- consult a variety of resources
- experiment with different approaches

learning in ‘real life’ isn’t generally very ordered or structured. Learning is usually motivated by an activity which needs to be performed or a problem which has been encountered. Individuals seek and select information from all kinds of sources to meet their own personal needs and interests and there is always further learning which they can continue to pursue as their activities and practice develop and they reflect on their new goals.

… ‘cognitive playfulness’ (Martocchio, 1992; Webster, 1995) and exploratory learning … Gare (2000), for instance, describes play as the ‘archetypal chaotic and unpredictable behaviour from which new order emerges’.

Video Lecture: Complexity Science – Seth Bullock
A systems is a set of individual components that are linked by relationships of some kind to form a whole.

Complexity and Information Overload in Society .pdf – Francis Heylighen
… information overload is made worse by “data smog”, the proliferation of low quality information because of easy publication.
… the basic thrust of progress cannot be stopped, this means that we will have to evolve suprahuman systems to complement our limited capacities for processing information and understanding complex systems. These systems cannot be merely technological (the famed superintelligent computers or robots), but must encompass humans as essential components.

… law of Moore, according to which the speed of microprocessors doubles every 18 month, while their price halves.

Ephemeralization, the ongoing increase in efficiency or productivity of all processes involving matter, energy and information, is the most basic manifestation of technological and organizational advance.

… ephemeralization smoothens or lubricates the machinery of society. Movements of matter and information run more freely, with very little loss or resistance. But this applies to unwanted movements too. It has become much easier to distribute weapons, bombs, drugs or poisonous materials, or for criminals or terrorists to coordinate their activities across borders.

1987 "Black Wednesday" collapse of stock prices, which was due not so much to the state of the economy, but to the new phenomenon of computer trading. Specialised computer programs would monitor the prices of different stocks. If prices fell below a certain value, the computer was programmed to offer the shares for sale, before they would lose even more value. But the more shares were on sale, the lower their prices became, triggering yet more selling.

Ephemeralization not only lengthens causal sequences, it increases the number of effects that a cause produces in parallel. An event has generally more than one effect simultaneously. – multiply effect - … greater difficulty to predict, and therefore control, … The reduction of friction in causal networks, however, makes prediction ever more difficult .. chaotic

evolutionary dynamic underlying ephemeralization not only increases the complexity of interactions, but also the complexity of the overall system because it promotes the differentiation and integration of subsystems … any phenomenon, system or process in society becomes more difficult to analyze, model, predict and control.

To compensate for the loss of predictability, this means that they will have to gather more extensive information about all the different factors and interactions that may directly or indirectly affect their situation.

… ephemeralization has made the collection and processing of information much easier. However … fundamental bottleneck in predictability is: the human decision-maker

… information was a scarce resource … ephemeralization has made the retrieval, production and distribution of information infinitely easier … practically eliminating the cost of publication. This has reduced the natural selection processes which would otherwise have kept all but the most important information from being transmitted. … overabundance of low quality information has been called data smog by Shenk (1997). … “spam”

Causal effect of world trade centre on us getting our passports

… ephemeralization forces us to pay attention to ever more data.

The problem is that people have clear limits in the amount of information they can process. To use Simon’s (1972; Simon et al., 1992) well-known phrase, they have bounded rationality. … psychologist Miller (1957) has shown that people can only keep some seven items at once in their working memory. … Long-term memory is much more powerful and can store millions of concepts, although it is short-term memory that we use to think, decide, and solve problems in real-time.

… people will be confronted with more information than they effectively can process: this situation we may call information overload (Berghel, 1997; Kirsh, 2000).

psychologist David Lewis, who analysed these findings, proposed the term "Information Fatigue Syndrome" to describe the resulting symptoms. They include anxiety, poor decision-making, difficulties in memorizing and remembering, reduced attention span, reduced work satisfaction and strained relations with collaborators (Waddington, 1996; Shenk, 1997; Wurman, 1990).

If we consider individuals as goal-seeking, cybernetic systems (cf. Heylighen, 2002), then processing incoming information (perception) is only one half of the story. … Ephemeralization has boosted not only the availability of information but our capacity for action. We have ever more numerous and more powerful tools, support systems, services and products at our disposal. … We may call this the problem of opportunity overload.

Because of ephemeralization, the potential power of actions, whether to the good or to the bad, has tremendously increased.

Perez (1983), inertia: individuals and organizations need years, if not decades, to adapt to a new technology and to learn to use it productively … The more revolutionary the technology, the longer this learning or adaptation process will take…

Ephemeralization of information has allowed more people to be educated more easily and cheaply leading to the understanding for the need of ‘life long learning’ … education will no longer be finished after college, but become a permanent process, as employees need constant training to keep up-to-date with the developments in their field and in society at large.

More important even than the quantity of education is its quality. … This requires education where the focus is not on static rules or facts, but on methods to autonomously analyse problems, find relevant information, synthesize the results, and thus develop new knowledge.

… the human brain is an organ with a limited capacity for storing and processing information.

… g-factor (for “general” intelligence), that appears primarily biological (Jensen, 1998). The g-factor can perhaps best be understood as a measure of the efficiency of information processing in the brain. … there is also a strong influence from the environment beyond the effect of education. … explain this secular rise in intelligence (Neisser, 1998): richer nutrition, better health, more cognitive stimulation by a more information rich environment, more parental attention invested in a smaller number of children, etc.

Distinguishing and filtering out unreliable or irrelevant information is one part of what Shenk (1997) calls information hygiene. … People should not only learn how to recognize information parasites and other forms of low-content messages, they should themselves actively refrain from adding to this “data smog”. Ie “netiquette”

… attention economy… Where the cost for the sender is minimal, the cost for the receivers, while individually almost negligible, is collectively huge. … The cost has shifted basically from sender to receiver.

While our conscious processing in short-term memory is extremely limited, it is clear that the more diffuse, automatic, subsconscious processes relying on long-term memory (e.g. recognizing faces or producing speech) have a capacity that is still beyond the one of present-day computers. … artificial intelligence (AI) … not so much for independently intelligent programs, but for systems that support or “augment” human intelligence (IA, that is, Intelligence Amplification, rather than AI). … various relatively simple tasks on behalf of its user, such as keeping track of contacts and appointments, … Creating such an environment is the main drive behind the vision of the semantic web, (Berners-Lee et al., 2001)

1) individual human minds; 2) economical or social rules for the allocation of attention; 3) computer systems to support human decision-making.

collective intelligence (Lévy, 1997). … as ant nests, bee hives or termite colonies (Bonabeau et al., 1999), encompassing intelligent system is the global brain

collaborative filtering (Shardanand & Maes, 1995): a person who has already read a message may score how relevant or interesting the message is for him or her.

.. the web learns new links between documents in the same way that the brain learns to create associations between phenomena experienced within a short time interval.

.. human intelligence, computer intelligence, and coordination mechanisms

Complexity, Chaos, and Emergence (George Siemens)
Chaos theory - Strogatz defines it as unpredictability that occurs in systems that obey predictable laws, or, more succinctly, “deterministic unpredictability”. … Pure mathematics, advanced physics, and related sciences are its birthplace. … two critical elements: 1) the concept of sensitivity of initial conditions, and 2) recognizing that learning similarly consists of unpredictability that occurs within certain structures of form (deterministic unpredictability).

Complexity theory - a weather system is an example of complexity. Numerous interacting elements produce varying outcomes. Such as in learning

Emergence is an attribute exhibited by complex systems. … our learning is the emergent phenomena of our own interactions with others and how we have engaged with and connected different concepts.

Learning is simply too complex, too multifaceted, too replete with multiple off-ramps, to be confined or reduced to a mechanistic model.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Connectives and Collectives: Distinctions between networks and groups

Siemens (2008) says ‘Networks are the underlying structure of any type of situation’ and speaks in terms of ‘connectives’ (networked individuals) and ‘collectives’ (groups of individuals), and that we can not argue a case of groups vs networks.

He says that the desired outputs or outcomes will determine whether it is best to facilitate connectives or collectives.

Looking at the history of learning networks, I see ‘artists’ of the renaissance era representing ‘connective’ learning groups – where creation and innovation were desired, and ‘guilds and unions’ of the industrial age representing the ‘collective’ learning groups – where the conformity of skills and massive production were required.

Siemens acknowledges that the challenge for educators is:
- to determine whether the complexity of the learning requires self organisation or needs to be managed;
- how we preserve the unique values of both networked individuals and groups of individuals; and
- within collectives, how we support and maintain the individual ‘self’ within the group environment.

Downes, (
2006, 2006a, 2007) however, is able to distinguish between groups and networks.

He refers to groups as being closed, where there is a boundary separating members and non-members, and unity and co-ordination is required. Downes cites broadcast media and online service, such as television, radio, and books, podcasts, and technorati, which are controlled by a ‘leader’ and result in ‘power laws’, as examples of how ‘groups’ supports static content that is delivered to an individual. Other examples of online ‘groups’ include: intranets, portals, standards, LMS, and copyright laws.

He feels that groups create an unequal distribution of knowledge, and supports exclusivity and control, distinguishing the rich from the poor.

He sees, however, networks as being autonomous and open, with no walls or boundaries separating individuals, but rather creating ‘bridges’ based on the connections between the members. Technologies which support networks are more person to person and create more connective conversations, like telephones, personal emails and letters, personal home pages, blogs, social networks and personal learning systems such as e-portfolios, and systems like creative commons. Networks better represent the organic world/ecosystems, support diversity and self directed learning, and provide more of an equal say/power base, thereby preventing the rich from getting richer.

For me, there is a dilemma in Downes networks vs groups argument. I love that networks support more of a socialist system, whereby economic wealth is more evenly distributed, and individuals (autonomous agents) are encouraged to take responsibility for their own destinies. However, when you ask people in a workplace which feature do you value most in your colleagues their response is to “work well as a part of a team” (groups).

So how do we as educators:
- know when it is best to facilitate connective or collective learning? and
- how do we support networked individuals whilst encouraging a ‘team’ approach?

CCK08 - week 5 – Connectives and Collectives: Distinctions between networks and groups

Groups Vs Networks: The Class Struggle Continues - Stephen Downes
That Group Feeling - Stephen Downes
Downes Interview: Groups and Networks (here's the image from the video)
Group and Network (presentation, George Siemens)
Other useful resources for this week:

Notes from readings:
Groups Vs Networks: The Class Struggle Continues - Stephen Downes
groups require unity and networks require diversity. Groups require coherence, networks require autonomy and so on.

Networks offers that path that isn't the individual and isn't the group, doesn't force you to choose between the individual and the group.

a group is a collection of entities or members according to their nature or their feature or their properties or whatever, their essential nature, maybe, their accidental nature, maybe, whatever, but according to their nature. What defines a group is the quality the members possess in common and then the number of members in that group. Groups are about nature, they're about quality, they're about mass. They're about number.

A network, by contrast, is an association, I use that word very precisely, an association of entities or members where this association is facilitated or created by a set of connections between those entities. …. A connection is merely some conduit along which a signal can run. … What defines a network is the nature and the extent of this connectivity. The nature and the extent to which these individuals are connected together.

A group, in other words, is like a school, a school of thought or a school of fish or a class, a class of entity, a class of animals, a class in a genus and a species.

"Education and authentic learning," he writes, "like freedom, is wrapped up with the notion of responsibility and accountability. We need to learn in groups because that's where we form our identities." True or false? "Not in some vast, chaotic network where there's no responsibility, no authenticity." (Stanley Frielick, kirjoitti 27.9.2006 kello 12:35)

A network is like an ecosystem where there is no requirement that all the entities be the same, where the nature of the entity isn't specifically relevant, where the number of entities isn't specifically relevant.

Can we have order, responsibility, identity, all of that good stuff, inside an ecosystem?

Networks are almost defined by the opposite, defined by their diversity. A network thrives on diversity.

Internet technology that encourages diversity rather than conformity includes things like personal home pages or these days, blogs.

Groups require coordination. They require a leadership or a leader.

A group is defined by its values. …. Networks, by contrast, require autonomy.

Interaction in a network isn't about leaders and followers. It's about, as I say here, a mutual exchange of value.

And you think about the technology now that encourages autonomy rather than conformance. E-portfolios is being touted as this sort of technology.

Networks are open. Networks require that all entities in the network be able to both send and receive.

Copyright, trademarks, proprietary software, all of these things are barriers for the communication of thought and ideas.

Groups are distributive - money, information, power, everything flows from the center, an authority, and it's distributed through the members.

Networks are distributed. In a network, there is no locus of knowledge. There is no place that knowledge and money and all of that flow from.

But can groups be an entity within a network?

That Group Feeling - Stephen Downes
groups are based on passion while networks are based on reason. Groups meet our need to belong and to survive, while networks meet our need to connect and learn and to know.

When we look at learning, therefore, and when we ask which model should prevail, the group model or the network model, we are asking fundamentally what the role of our educational system should be. Should it be to foster an emotional attachment to a group, be it a nation, religion, or system of wealth distribution?

There is no shortage of people wanting schooling to fulfill not only a learning but also a socialization function. …. teaching becomes less a matter of cognitive function and more a matter of indoctrination.

when the fostering of allegiance to a group becomes a major, or primary, function of education, then the traditional agenda, thought of as learning, is left behind.

We can no longer afford dogmatic tribalism. …. But in matters affecting economics and finance, environment, government and nations, we can no longer afford group-based tribalism.

where we, as a society, would prefer reason to prevail over emotions, we should prefer to organize ourselves as networks rather than as groups.

I want groups to continue to exist. I want that feeling of unrestrainedly shouting “Hort! Hort! Hort!” in a suburban field, of forming a bond with a group of friends, of feeling the strength and support of my community and my family. But not at any cost. Not at the cost groups, unrestrained, can inflict on the outcast. Not at the cost that indoctrination, practiced as a theory of learning, can inflict on a society and on a planet. Not at the cost the tribe mentality, as exercised in the schoolyard, can inflict on an individual.

Do we create an indoctrinated learning environment in our schools to control and concur – adopted from our tribual/feudualistic backgrounds or to easily manage the large scale formalization of our education systems. Worker ants vs independent thinkers.

Would improved and flexible funding models and improved teacher training/professional development enable us to create networked learning models?

The Lesotho ‘cattle-boys’ who didn’t want to be coaxed into a formal classroom environment, which we make them more ‘civilised’.

Control (groups) vs Anarchy (networks)

Downes Interview: Groups and Networks (here's the image from the video)
Online learning focuses on ‘groups’

Groups – unity, co-ordination, closed/boundary between members & non-members, leader – television, radio, books – broadcast media – content static and delivered – intranet/portal – standards, LMS – copyright – podcasts, technorati – results in a power law – an unequal distribution of knowledge, wealth – distinguishing the rich and poor – exclusivity and control

Networks – diversity, autonomy, open and no walls, bridges rather than walls, based on the connections between the members – talking, telephone, not broadcast, more person to person – personal home page – self directed learning systems (e-portfolios) – creative commons – connective and creates conversations – social networks – organic world – prevents the rich from getting richer – more of an equal say/power

Group and Network (presentation, George Siemens)
Groups are a type of network – impossible to compare the two
Collectivity – doing things together – distributed nature of knowledge – trust required –
Working together as a group is completely different from networks and individuals
Need to consider ‘human nature’ - Individual identity important – the desire to have ‘recognition’ of our actions
Collective intelligence – recognition of ‘the self’
Concepts are partly held ‘externally’ through an ‘artefact’ ie a book/article using a ‘language’
Socially formed – language, symbols, customs, culture, technology – conceptually held –
“The intelligences … are distributed … across minds, persons, and the symbolic and physical environments” Roy Pea
Collectives/Groups – as we start to integrate our ideas/concepts with others – important protection of our selves which needs to be retained
The self is not created through socialization it is shaped and expressed through socialization (negotiation/conversations)
Connectives – mosaic self autonomy
Collectives – subsumption of self (melting pot) – needs a coercion to the norm –
Working with others is a vital skill, whilst retaining ‘self’ – autonomy of individuals
Innovation is deviation – when people see things in a similar way there is little ‘innovation’ – need to encourage deviation –
Freedom vs control – multiplicity of networks required – high innovation – free/open structure required – time pressures to create outputs – control required
“Intense connectivity can homogenize the pool … high cohesiveness can lead to the sharing of common rather than novel information” Uzzi, Spiro (2005)
Networks are the underlying structure in any type of a situation ie individuals (new ideas, novel concepts, weak ties) or groups (normalizing, strong ties)
Complexity – self organisation vs managed
Challenge for educators : preserve unique values of connectives (individuals) and collectives (groups)

Innovation = individuals
Conformity = groups

Working as a part of a team vs autonomous agents

Collectives, Networks and Groups in Social Software for E-Learning - Terry Anderson and John Dron
that there are actually three distinct entities that are involved in activities supported through the use of social software: the group, the network and the collective

We suggest that the level of granularity is specified by a cluster of variables including the number of users, formal leadership, degree of familiarity of users with each other, perceived responsibility to the ‘Many’ and the privacy afforded to the users.

Our classification begins with the often tightly formed and usually temporally bound entity known as the group or, in many corporate settings, as the team. From here we move to discussion of the network, a more fluid form of social entity in which members join, create and remove themselves through informal and semi-formal connections. Finally we discuss the collective, the highest form of social granularity in which members participate for individual benefit, but their activities are harvested to generate the ‘wisdom of crowds’.

Collectives are aggregations, sets formed of the actions of individuals who primarily see themselves as neither a part of a group nor connected through a network. … Notable collective behaviours include the formation of tag clouds, the ordering of results in Google, recommendations of collaborative filters or social navigation in various social systems based on prior use, evaluation or other stigmergic indicators. …. collective systems do not require a commitment to the Many.

Bradley Horowitz (2006) estimates that 1% of users are creators or instigators of interaction. A further 10% are synthesizers or commentators who respond to invitation and prompting by creators. The remaining 89% are consumers but who still value to the collective through their tracked consumption.

Table 1 - forms of communication in social software – page 4
Table 2 - uses of social software for learning – page 5
Figure 1 - social view of e-learning – page 6

7 Habits of Highly Connected People - Stephen Downes
1. Be reactive - if publishing your own stuff comes at the expense of reading and commenting on other people's stuff, that's not so great.

Posting, after all, isn't about airing your own views. It's about connecting, and the best way to connect is to clearly draw the link between their content and yours.

2. Go With The Flow - When connecting online, it is more important to find the places to which you can add value rather than pursue a particular goal or objective.

3. Connection Comes First - the idea of replacing your online connecting with busy-work is mistaken.

4. Share - The way to function in a connected world is to share without thinking about what you will get in return.

5. RTFM - "Read The Fine Manual" - it means, basically, is that people should make the effort to learn for themselves before seeking instruction from others.

6. Cooperate - To cooperate, it is necessary to know the protocols. Protocols exist in all facets of online communications, from the technologies that connect software (like TCP/IP and HTML) to the ways people talk with each other (like netiquette and emoticons).

7. Be Yourself - it's a recognition that your online life encompasses the many different facets of your life, and that it is important that these facets are all represented and work together.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

History of Networked Learning

“Networks are everywhere. All you need is an eye for them” - Barabási, 2002

Networked learning is not new – the areas of sociology, mathematics and physics all have long established research based on networks.

Networked learning has been occurring throughout time – for example: farmers have been sharing their knowledge with each other and with each new generation through social networks.

However, computer and telephonic technology and its physical infrastructure have brought to the forefront how networks facilitate learning.

2003 saw an explosion of social software sites such as Delicious, LinkedIN, MySpace, Second Life, Pbwiki, Podcasting became popular and Skype was released. The anonymous Iraq blogger Salam Pax started to report on the Iraq War, and Google started their ‘Adsense’ program to allow bloggers to monetize traffic on their site.

Even though in the years prior to 2003 the terms ‘social software’ and ‘folksonomy’ (2002) were coined, and popular sites and systems like RSS (2000), Wikipedia (2001) and Last.Fm, Technorati, Flickr (2002) were launched, the internet saw its beginnings derive from the fear of an attack by the Soviet Union on the US, (Paul Baran, 1964) and the need for a “communication (system) that could withstand a projected large-scale (possibly nuclear) attack”. Baran “proposed a distributed network which allowed sections of a distributed network to be destroyed while the message would still reach its destination.”

In 1988, two Swiss CERN employees, Tim Berners-Lee & Robert Cailliau, conceptualised the technology behind www, http, url, and html, which saw the developed of the web as we currently know it.

Throughout the development of the World Wide Web a number of influential internet innovators have progressively worked towards an internet which is ‘free’ and user driven. In more recent times, the influx of ‘free’ social networking websites has seen a massive increase in the use of the net for individuals to network with each other. However, these sites might not be as ‘free’ as their initially appear, with users not being able to delete their own accounts, who are ransomed by where there friends are online, who are hindered to export any of their own content and forego ownership of their own digital material and digital sovereignty.
“MySpace, which in 2006, makes it abundantly clear that "the company has 'a non-exclusive, fully-paid and royalty-free, worldwide license ... to use, copy, modify, adapt, translate, publicly perform, publicly display, store, reproduce,
transmit, and distribute' all content uploaded to their site.” A
History of the Social Web
- Trebor Scholz

Will the conflict between having ‘free’ online networking space, which readily supports networked learning, but has its content owned by large and unscrupulous corporations, effect who actually owns and controls this learning?

The English language can not be owned – but can networked learning?

CCK08 - week 4 – History of Networked Learning

A History of the Social Web (for some reason, Trebor Scholz took down the original link and now we rely on the link to the archive)
A Brief History of Networked Learning George Siemens

A Folk History of the Internet - this is very much a work in progress that I have been assembling over the years. If you are logged in on my website ( you can edit the contents of this wiki. - Stephen
Other useful resources for this week:
History of Open Content – George Siemens

Notes from readings:
A History of the Social Web - Trebor Scholz

“On Distributed Communication Networks” – Paul Baran, 1964 – on fear of an attack by the Soviet Union, the need for a communication that could withstand a projected large-scale (possibly nuclear) attack proposed a distributed network which allowed sections of a distributed network to be destroyed while the message would still reach its destination.

Supported by “Packet Switching” – Leonard Kleinrock, 1960 - Baran describes ‘packet switching’: all the nodes in the network would be equal in status to all other nodes, each node with its own authority to originate, pass, and receive messages." If there is a traffic jam at one point in the network, it can be re-routed.

By 1975 most of what happened on ARPANET was email, which was really not in sync with ARPANET's explicit research focus but it demonstrated the desire of people, given the opportunity, to be social, to talk to each other.

1977 - Mailing Lists – MsgGroup; Groupware – MUD (multi-user dungeon which combine role-playing games with chat rooms – later to become MMORGs – massively multiplayer online role-playing ie World of Warcraft WOW)
1978 – Bulletin Board Systems; USENET newsgroups, a system that copies files between computers without central control
1979 – ‘emoticons’ used to improve the dry text medium of the email
1981 – first IBM PC with mouse
1988 – Tim Berners-Lee & Robert Cailliau – conceptualised WWW, HTTP, URL, HTML
1993 – Marc Andreessen created a browser accessible to the non-technical person – which was rewritten to become ‘Netscape’ – Peter Steiner cartoon “on the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog”
1995 - the cross-platform software language JAVA, a "building material" for software, was written at SunMicro Systems, named after coffee, Silicon Valley's favorite beverage
1999 - Napster (peer to peer music sharing software) was important as it established expectations-- information wants to be free.
2000 – RSS 1.0 released
2000/2001 – Wikipedia created
2002 – Friendster, Last.Fm, Technorati, Flickr launched, ‘folksonomy’ & ‘social software’ termed/coined
2003 – Delicious,
LinkedIN (based on ‘weak ties’ – as you’re more likely to get a job through weak ties instead of strong ones Mark Granovetter 1973 "Getting a Job"),
MySpace (the most culturally influential social networking platform in the history of the Internet to date with about two hundred million users. According to freelance writer Trent Lapinski "MySpace was actually created by executives whose backgrounds are anchored in spam and mass marketing... [and] essential to the creation of MySpace is current CEO Chris DeWolfe.” "DeWolfe learned that people will sign up for almost anything that they find useful, and they could care less about the fine print." Spam became a central "feature" of MySpace,which, in 2006, makes it abundantly clear that "the company has 'a non-exclusive, fully-paid and royalty-free, worldwide license ... to use, copy, modify, adapt, translate, publicly perform, publicly display, store, reproduce, transmit, and distribute' all content uploaded to their site.”),
Second Life launched.
Google starts ‘Adsense’ program allowing many individual bloggers to monetize traffic on their site.
Podcasting became popular.
Skype released.
Iraq War begins and anonymous Iraq blogger Salam Pax started to report
PeanutButterWiki (Pbwiki) started
2004 – ‘Weblog’ official used in Webster dictionary; Facebook starts at Harvard Uni; Orkut – Google’s social networking site founded; LimeWire released
2005 – ‘Web 2.0’ coined; Ning, YouTube; GoogleVideo, Blip.TV launched; Bebo becomes popular (launched in 1997)
2006-2007 – a plethora of social software sites are launched, including Twitter (2006) – 1 billion people are online (2007) – 2 million English Wikipedia articles – 200 million MySpace accounts – 30 million Facebook users, growing by 4 million each month

"The Precariat" in which they state that: “Precarious work refers to all possible shapes of unsure, not guaranteed, flexible exploitation: from illegalized, seasonal and temporary employment to homework, flex- and temp-work to subcontractors, freelancers or so called self employed persons.” In the years to come the ideas surrounding the term of the precariat were applied to new labor conditions created by a networked lifestyle.”

“Networks in computer science, ecology, molecular biology, and quantum physics, according to Barabási have much in common and can inform us about online communities and social networks.”

Recent social websites (ie Facebook) do not allow users to ‘delete’ their accounts, and content cannot be easily exported.

The future of networked sociality is clearly linked to the anticipated two billions cellphone users of the near future.

A number of influential internet innovators work towards an internet which is free and user driven. However, in recent times, even though social websites are still ‘free’ that are not without the restrictions of not being able to delete accounts, ransomed by where people’s friends are, and the hindrance of being able to export content.

A Brief History of Networked Learning George Siemens
Networked learning is not new. Networked learning has been occurring throughout time – farmers sharing their knowledge – however, with the introduction of computer/telephonic technology and its physical networks to allow connectivity has brought to the forefront how networks facilitate learning
Barabási issued the statement: “Networks are everywhere. All you need is an eye for them” - Albert-László Barabási chronicles his awakening to the power of networks in the 2002 publication of Linked - (p. 7), indicating the increased awareness of networks as an underpinning structure in many disciplines.

Five significant stages can be noted in how networks are viewed within the educational space can be found in a review of literature:
(a) infrastructure development – the physical technical infrastructure ie computer software, hardware and connectivity;

(b) merging with fields which have an existing research base – sociology, mathematics and physics which have an established research base on networks, ;

(c) theoretical and transformative views of learning, knowledge, and cognition;
Salomon (1993) suggested the development of distributed cognition—cognition that occurs “in conjunction or partnership with others” (p. xiii), is due to three reasons:
(a) the growth of computers as tools to assist in intellectual activity,
(b) growing interest in Vygotsky’s theory of cognition as a product of a particular context or social setting, and
(c) dissatisfaction of the limitations of cognition when viewed as solely “in-the-head” (p. xiv).

Technology aids in the distribution of cognition as it enables us to “project ourselves outward digitally” (de Kerchove, 1997, p. 38), or, more boldly, “to treat the Web as the extension of the contents of one’s own mind” (p. 79).

(d) practicality and popularization of social network services; - The popularization of social software raised the profile of networks. Social networking, however, did not become main stream until the 2003 launch of MySpace. A potential secondary benefit may be the development of network thinking skills on the part of learners, as they discover ways of finding information and people, as well as solve problems through active involvement in a network.

(e) as a model for detailing the process of education and learning.
Within this stage, educators are beginning to explore how network models can assist not only collaborative learning in online and blended environments, but with pervasive mobile learning

This popularization, unfortunately, has led to the term network acquiring a degree of vagueness with multiple potential meanings.

The multiple potential meanings of the term network, as expressed by the five stages of network development, need to be recognized and reflected in order for educators to more precisely communicate concepts of connectivism and networked learning.

Connectivism, as a theory of learning, is developed against the backdrop of physical network infrastructure, development of the social learning theory, and distributed conceptions of cognition and knowing. ….. they served as an underpinning structure to the development of fields of science, literature, and technology.

A Folk History of the Internet – Stephen Downes

To show that what makes the net great is not the technologies and the CEOs but rather the stories, trends and fables that characterize the internet experience.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Properties of Networks

Networks are made up of entities, connections and signals which can be represented mathematically using graphs and tables.

In social networks, entities are the people who make up the network, connections are the paths through which information is transferred and signals are the actual messages or bits of information being shared.

Broken down and represented in this way, a social network appears to be a very simplistic process, however, understanding the relationship between each of these components reveals the various levels of complexity which makes up a social network.

How a network is connected determines what and how information moves around the network. If the entities within a network are all closely related, the amount of new information will be limited, as each entity is sharing the information with each other. However, a network with external connections or ‘weak ties’, that are not closely related to one another will have a much bigger influx of new and fresh information.

The way information flows in a network also determines how well information is circulated. Information can travel one way or be reciprocal and can also be onward flowing. Each of these methods of transference determines the fluidity of information, as does the frequency and filtering of information and the level of influence an entity is seen to have within the network. We do not all have to be directly connected to access and share information – 2, 3, 4 degrees of separation can also allow access to the information of others without having to be directly connected.

Networks can prejudice how we think and the power/strength of a network is not always positive.

The effect of the recent Wall Street financial collapse on the international monetary market is the result of networks. If we consider banks to be the ‘entities’ in the network, who are all closely ‘connected’ and cash/money being the ‘signal’ or information, we can see that the poor home loan lending practices of some US banks have meant that home mortgages have not be repaid to return funds into monetary markets (one way flow). This ‘leak’ or drain of money (information) from US banks means less fluidity of funds between their international partners (all closely linked) – creating a domino effect on the reduction of cash reserves globally.

Having an understanding of the properties or components of your network can help you manage and influence the optimistic and disasteristic characteristics of the network. Knowing who makes up your network, their influence/power, how the information flows and is filtered will also allow you to better understand the what, when, who and how of new knowledge from a network.

CCK08 - week 3 – Properties of networks

Networks for Newbies .ppt
Stephen Downes: Learning Networks: Theory and Practice .ppt and audio
George Siemens Introduction to Networks
Other useful resources for this week:
CCK08: Valdis Krebs on Networks
Intentionalism and Meaning – Stephen Downes
Emergent Networks PDF – Valdis Krebs

Optional Reading
Introduction to social network methods - Chapter 7 - Connection and Distance – Robert A Hanneman (Dept of Sociology, Uni of California, Riverside and Mark Riddle (Dept of Sociology, Uni of Nthn Colorado)

Notes from readings:

CCK08: Valdis Krebs on Networks
“… what you know depends on who you know … “

“You have to have certain skills and intelligence, etc., but that’s not sufficient. You need to be able to connect, who to rely on, who to work with. And that’s not just who you know, but who knows you.

Often, your success in a company depends on your visibility in a network.

So, I think that learning is social and learning is iterative, so those with a better network have the potential to learn better and more.”

You are how you know

Networks for Newbies .ppt Barry Wellman
“A network is more than the sum of its ties” … “that form distinct analyzable patterns”
“To discover how “A”, who is in touch with “B” and “C”, is affected by the relation between “B” & “C”.
“Networks are a major source of social capital: mobilizable in themselves and from their contents”
“The networked society”
“We dream in graphs: We analyse in matrices”
“How does information flow through a village?”
“People link Groups: Groups link people”

PaulPam2 - Social networks... does anyone notice when people haven't placed a comment for a week or two weeks or even longer...... @PaulPam2 I think it would depend on the amount of people within the network and the contribution to the network by the person
Intentionalism and Meaning – Stephen Downes
“intentionalism - The thesis that all mental states are representational states. Specifically, raw feels and qualia, are said to have representational content.”
“Associationism - is at heart a theory of inference: Ideas, regarded rather as sensations or as mental images, were associated in the mind according to certain laws, mainly concerning contiguity and resemblance, and thereby led to further ideas, and to the functioning of mental life in general.
The position has resolved regarding the principles of association:
Aside from similarity and contiguity, other governing principles have been proposed to explain how ideas become associated with each other. These include temporal contiguity (ideas or sensations formed close together in time), repetition (ideas that occur together repeatedly), recency (associations formed recently are the easiest to remember), and vividness (the most vivid experiences form the strongest associative bonds).
I have advanced a position in my own work proposing four major principles of association:
resemblance - a.k.a. Hebbian associationism
contiguity or proximity - a.k.a. salience
feedback or back propagation
balance, or entropy aka Boltzmann mechanisms
”Realism - is essentially the thesis that there is some (external or underlying) reality to which all of our perceptions (statements, whatever) refer (or represent, whatever).
Pat Parslow’s statement reflects a commonly held belief: “Without the consensual reality of negotiated meaning, the network has little or no basis for its foundation - whilst the negotiation of that reality cannot occur without the network. The two are part and parcel of the same overall system.”
“Learning –
Pat Parslow says, ” Yes, learning is about growing our network, both internally in our brains (and bodies) and externally in terms of the connections we make through associating with others, but these are both intimately tied to negotiating the meaning of concepts with the external (and possibly internal?) networks.”
“Connectivism is a non-intentional theory of learning and knowledge.
What this means is that, in connectivism, learning is not about content. It is not about entering a certain representational state with respect to the world.
It allows - indeed, encourages - the idea that people may have different, and individual, accounts of the external world.
Which means that what is negotiated is not some set of statements about the nature of that world - not representational states, not meanings - but mechanisms for communication, protocols for interaction (which may indeed be, and probably are, understood differently by each person engaged in communication).”

Stephen Downes: Learning Networks: Theory and Practice .ppt and audio
Networks: Basic Elements
- Entities: the things that are connected, sends and received signals
- Connections: links between entities – links, channel, my be physical or virtual
- Signals: message sent between entities – physical, meaning not inherent in signal, must be interpreted

Some Properties of Networks
- Density – how many other entities each entity is connected to
- Speed – how quickly a messages moves to an entity, can be measured in ‘hops’
- Flow – how much info an entity processes, includes messages sent, received plus transfers
- Plasticity – how frequently, connected created, abandoned

Network Design Principles
- specifies how networks differ from traditional learning
- the idea is that each principle confers an advantage over non-network systems
- can be used as a means of evaluating new technology

Centralised vs Decentralised networks
Distributed networks – reside in different physical locations, peer2peer/RSS, sharing not coping
Disintermediate – barrier between source & receiver ie editors/media, to manage flow of information, reduce volume of info, not the type of info
Disaggregated – units of content should be as small as possible – content not bundled, integration of new and old info, ie learning objects, smallest possible unit of instruction
Dis-integrate – entities of a network are not ‘components’ of one another ie avoid ‘required’ software, message coded in a ‘common’ language,
Democratize – entities in a network are autonomous – freedom to connect, send, receive info, diversity important, control is impossible
Dynamize – a network is a fluid, changing entity, it is through the process of change that new knowledge is discovered
Desegregate – do not need learning-specific tools/process and is a part of living/work/play – the network is everywhere

Elements of Network Semantics:
- Context; Relevance; Patterns; Memory, Stability, Weighting

Knowledge is shared understanding

Connectivism: Network Pedagogy
- Network ‘Pragmatics’, how to use networks to support learning, distributed knowledge, recognizes explicitly that what we ‘know’ is embedded in our network of connections to each other/resources/the world

Principles of Connectivism
- learning is a process of connecting entities
- nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning
- ability to see connections between fields, ideas and concepts is a core skill
- capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known
- decision-making is itself a learning process

Stop trying to do online what you do in the classroom …. It’s a different world online

Introduction to social network methods - Chapter 7 - Connection and Distance – Robert A Hanneman (Dept of Sociology, Uni of California, Riverside and Mark Riddle (Dept of Sociology, Uni of Nthn Colorado)

“Highly connected individuals may be more influential, and may be more influenced by others.”

How a network is connected determines the breadth of the network – if the network is closely linked to each other – the network is ‘limited’ – disbursely connected networks means access to larger amounts of information

How influential you are in a network is determined by who you are actually connected to, ie other influential nodes within your network

“In a sense, actors with many ties (at the center of a network) and actors at the periphery of a network (few ties) have patterns of behavior that are more constrained and predictable. Actors with only some ties can vary more in their behavior, depending on to whom they are connected.”

Being connected to others is simply not enough – it’s what you do with the information you receive and whether you send information or more it on – by understanding networks we can have greater influence in the network, understand how to ‘work/build the network’ and who to connect with within the network – direct connection is not always required – but who your network is connected to – single or bi-directional connectivity paths

Networks can be mathematically depicted through charts and graphs – would be interesting to map your own network –

Walks, trails, paths – distances and directions between connections – one way, both ways, passed onwards/forward within the network

George Siemens Introduction to Networks
Networks are everywhere and all we need is an eye for them.
Those who are most easily influenced are those who contributed to the development of new trends.
Networks are an underlying structure that are exhibited in all aspects of our learning at any level that we might consider (social, conceptual, neural).
Are our educational systems designed to appropriately take advantage of network opportunities – curriculum too linear – education being a one way flow.
Connectivism - Assertion that knowledge is distributed and learning is the process of creating those networks – aided through the use of technology – learning networked – knowledge distributed

Friday, October 3, 2008

Notes from AUSTAFE 08 Conference – 3/10/08

einventing the Present to Create the FutureLouise Palmer, Deputy Vice Chancellor (TAFE), Swinburne University

Successful organisations are those who get to the future first
You need to learn to ride the wave of change.

Gary Hamell – influential business thinker.

Resilience thinking model to respond to rapid change – we can not be too busy to be working with change.

The heart of resilience – embracing change.

Things change and to ignore or resist this change is to increase our vulnerability and forego emerging opportunities in so doing, we limit our options.

Building an organisation as nimble as change itself:
- making innovation a part of everyone’s job & person specs/performance reviews
- creating an ideas gateway – peer reviewed – then scoped
- creating an organisation where everyone gives their best
- Creating a highly engaging work environment
- Escaping the shackles

See different, be different – for the new world order

What stories are being told about your organisation by your staff – Are they positive? Negative?

Ken Robinson – if you want to innovate you need to be able to create – if you want to create you need to be able to dream – so we need to teach people to dream – do schools kill creativity in children?

Attitudes to Change – are similar to the attitudes to diversity – there are those who are saying “what we can do”: ‘I’m doing it’, ‘I’m ready’ – need ‘help’ to respond to change, ‘never thought of it’ – encourage to respond to change, ‘we’ve tried this before but..’ – sell the positive concept of change, ‘this isn’t something I want to do’ – because I said so – change is mandatory.

All of these groups need different communication strategies – the communication challenge – what strategies are there:
- rich narratives – every business has a story and often more than one – need to be used as a leadership tool – affect people at an emotional level – walk the talk – people tend to remember a story – choose language carefully – build stories with audience at the front of mind – keep the messages simple – 3-4 key messages – and stay on message - consider media training – create message which embraces resilience

Swinburne University/TAFE has a mission of ‘sustainability’ and adopts this mission into all of their practices

What is VET pedagogy?
- learner centred
- work focused
- attribute inclusive

Narrative is a core competence for management – it’s the ability to connect and stir empathy in people.

Web 2.0 – sharing power and sharing voice – there needs to be more use of web 2.0 in business – need to develop a digital engagement strategy – create a ‘thoughtocracy’ – creating online spaces where people can keep in touch with each others’ activity within the organisation – networked intelligence

Thursday, October 2, 2008

AUSTAFE 08 Conference – 2/10/08

A business approach to the Business of Social Inclusion
Dr Mark Bagshaw, Director, Innov8 Consulting Group

A Changing World
- gap between rich and poor can’t continue
- education is paramount
- business is not doing it part
- governments need to be stronger

If people with a disability were engaged in the workforce there would be an additional 161,000 people in the Australian workforce.

We haven’t built a society which supports the needs of disability groups.
606.000 people are receiving a pension at a cost of $12.5 bn just in pensions.

Attitudes to Diversity must change.

Skilling Australia: The Opportunities and Threats for TAFE
Philip Bullock, Chair, Skills Australia

Skills need to be holistic.

1 in 4 people unemployed today are ‘long term unemployed’
We have over 20% unemployment in youth
2006 Adult Literacy and Lifeskills survey – low literacy, numeracy and problem solving skills in Australia
Only 50% of apprentices are completing their apprenticeships

Productivity Places Program
630,000 additional training places over 5 years
284,000 for job seekers

Providing people with the opportunity to undertake training and education is paramount.

Striving for Excellence: Improving the Quality of VET Teaching, Learning and Assessment
Malcolm Goff, Chief Executive Officer, TVET Australia

Quality Outcomes for VET:
Competency Standards, Quality Policy Framework, VET Learning Resources, National VET Workforce

The importance of the National Training System being “more dynamic and flexible to meet the needs of industry and students if it is to delivery skills that the Australian economy needs now and into the future” – Skilling Australia for the Future, April 2008 – the productivity agenda

“Focus is on ensuring that the next generation of Training Packages provides greater flexibility and adaptability by being highly responsive to industry’s existing and future demand for new skills”

Quality Policy Framework: AQTF2007
“Focus is on ensuring that the quality management of the national training system delivers quality, client focused training and assessment. This includes monitoring and evaluating regulatory arrangements, accountabilities and decision making process at the strategic level”

VET Learning Resources:
“Focus is on providing access to: a national catalogue of quality teaching, learning and assessment resources; national and international licensing services” – - will be one of the LORN repository owners shortly.

Another national repository is the Resource Generator.

National VET workforce development:
“Focus is on ensuring that the skills capacity of the VET workforce is increased and deepeneand that the demand for skills and skills training are matched”

The Social Inclusion Dimension: What is it? Why does it Matter?
Martin Stewart-Weeks, Director, Public Sector (Asia-Pacific), Cisco Systems

Cisco sends its products to market when they’re 70-80% ready – and lets the market work out what else needs doing to improve them.

Innovation isn’t what it used to – we need to innovate like we never have before.
New ethics of innovation is very challenging for industry.
We are currently in a shift from an institutional model (ego-centric) to a relational model.

TAFE is both a victim and an agent of this transition.

An Agenda:
Social Innovation

Innovation is moving to a connected Ecosystem – ie from in house labs to the connected global marketplace

Because the really smart people you need are not working in your organisation, you need to connect and integrate them into your system.

The Governance Framework – Culture – most innovation doesn’t come from the centre – but from the ‘edge’ – frustrated, disgruntled customers are a great source of innovation.

Social innovation solutions are willing to try something different, provide an effective solution and leave behind new and sustainable capabilities, assets or opportunities for wider social change

Geoff Mulgam, Young Foundation – need to become more rigorous and systematic about how we develop and move social innovations in our organisations.

Bees – individuals, entrepreneurs – TAFE employees – Trees – TAFE as an organisation

Charles LeadbeaterWe think – Six Lessons – Social Innovations – we are what we share – relationships are critical – framing counts – people enact change – public sector orchestration – new measures – political leadership

ASIX – Australian Social Innovation Exchange – raise the profile of social innovations as a key contributor to new thinking about sustainable solution to unmet social needs in Australia, to lift the speed of the social innovation cycle. Have a Twitter account: sixlive

A new ethic of public value – the power of distributed networking; mind set – changing from ego-centric to everything 2.0 – co-creation of content – openness – harnessing the network – peer production

The new wealth of nations is in the networks – value not just in $$ but in the connection between people. Yochai Benkler's book – The wealth of networks

People subscribe to people – the clue train manifesto

TAFE as a ‘victim’ – TAFE as an ‘agent’

Connected, open & distributed, network centric – the network knows more than we do – user participation and co-creation – people enact change – the importance of relationships – bees and trees

Are we backing people or organisations? – shared mental model – culture – governance – leadership – investment and resources – control and openness – knowledge management and collaboration

New truths:
First it is ridiculed
Secondly it is violently opposed
Thirdly it is accepted as being self-evident

TAFE as an Agent of Social Change
Conversation Café - Dr Mark Bagshaw & Martin Stewart-Weeks

Medical, emotional, social, environmental and vocational learning – we need to consider the different types of learning and how we can do this training in parallel.

Attitudal and prejudices prevent change.

An education is not social inclusion in its own right.

Social Diversity training/reform is so important for the improvements of engaging migrants and people with a disability into the workplace.

Contestability in VET: The Good, the Bad and the Elephant – Panel Discussion
Hugh Guthrie, NCVER; Phillip Bullock, Skills Australia; (Malcolm Goff, TVET Australia - absent); Louise Palmer, Swinburne University; Adrian Marron, TAFE SA

Phillip: Contestability is a ‘jurisdictional’ decision – an institute needs to understand where they are in the market – how can TAFE equally participate in a contestable training market when they are restricted by the decision making structure of a government body.

Louise: if you have a certificate at a certain level – you will not be able to undertake another different certificate at the same level at the ‘government subsidised’ rate – or if you hold a diploma or degree you will not be entitled to government subsidised pricing for a qualification which is less than that diploma/degree.

Adrian: the training market is ‘imperfect’ and will need some regulating to allow for these imperfections.

From the floor:

What impact will contestable funding have on social inclusion and innovation? We need a strong ACE and school sector involved in VET.

What is actually being contested? Need to accommodate Industry, the individual and the RTO – jurisdictions will be able to determine how they manage their additional ‘contestable’ funding/pricing to meet the needs of their State/Territory. Pricing will occur around the skills needs of their economy.