SIMNET Weblog

March 20, 2009

LETSI Project – Web Services API for SCORM Run-Time Communication

Filed under: CCK08 — Tags: , — Frank Polster @ 8:57 pm

If you have about an hour on Wed 25 March, “brown bag” it that day and join us for the kick off of LETSI’s first open source software project – Web Services API for SCORM Runtime Communication.

The genesis for the project is a white paper that was submitted by Virginia Travers, as part of the SCORM 2.0 submissions last summer, titled “SCORM RTE Web Services Interface”
Mike Rustic blogged about the project in “Learning to Swim” 23 Feb 09 and had a link to the project document titled “LETSI Project Proposal – Web Services API for SCORM Run-Time Communication”
Bruce Roberts and Chris Guin from BBN will kick off the session to provide some background on the project along with some issues and challenges in taking the current code to the next level. Tyde Richards an Schawn Thropp are also scheduled to join in on the discussions. Chris’s brief as well as other project documents are posted on the LETSI wiki.
As most of you know LETSI is taking a much different approach with its community source approach and an agile software development process, while at the same time maintaining and active liaison with Standards Committee. This project has an active liaison with the IEEE LTSC group and I expect Schawn Thropp will make a few comments on what the IEEE is planning.
As a pilot project, the substance and process are of equal importance. We are making things up as we go along. Your technical contributions and involvement in building an open source software development environment are needed. One of the LETSI founders has contributed some infrastructure assets and for this project we will use Source Forge to manage the project and code.
Project Documents – see:
http://wiki.letsi.org/display/Arch/LETSI+Software+Development+Pilot+Project

Date: March 25
Time:
*  16:00 UTC
*   9:00am U.S. Pacific
*   noon U.S. Eastern
*  4:00pm UK
*  5:00pm France/Germany

Duration: 1 hour

Skype phone: +9900827049304412

Conventional phone: local number + access code 9304412

US 201-793-9022
Austria 0820 401 15470
Belgium 0703 57 134
France 0826 109 071
Germany 0180 500 9527
Ireland 818 27 968
Italy 848 390 177
Spain 902 881 270
Switzerland 0848 560 397
United Kingdom 0870 0990 931

Adobe Connect session:
http://pcpbu.na4.acrobat.com/letsi
Log in as a guest

Thanks Frank

Advertisements

November 20, 2008

CCK08 – “Be the change you want to see in the world”

Filed under: CCK08 — Tags: , , — Frank Polster @ 1:26 pm

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi

I tend to see the glass as “half full” not “half empty” and therefore see opportunities. I have viewed learning as a lifelong pursuit and a mix of both formal and informal learning opportunities.  Roy Pea’s “Lifelong and Lifewide learning” graphic below, shows me that informal learning represents an opportunity. On the flipside there are barriers and challenges with that opportunity. This paper looks at those challenges for informal learning in the work environment that may well apply to the formal side. In my mind, the issue is not so much about the technology innovations, but with the culture.

lifewide-learning

A struggle to make sense of it all.

The last ten weeks of the CCK08 course have been, to say the least, an eye opener. The exposure to a whole new set of connections and folks that are deeply passionate with trying to make a difference in the future of learning. Trying to digest the points of views, the diversity, and connecting with the passionate intellectual energy was at times overwhelming — let alone trying to make sense of the right way to move forward.

Now what! How do I apply it? What can I do to contribute? How can I make a difference? How can I belong and how can I contribute to a set of connections that exist in a network that is intangible?

A theme that emerges is that the challenge is long term with no silver bullets or magic wands to wave over to generate instant solutions. Ideas do have substance in your mind as it connects and reflects and, at some point, becomes substantive in a plan, via actions and conversations. The path forward appears in the connected conversations – that you make a difference by what you do, the example you set and by your own contributions within a connected community – no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. Your persistent participation in the dialogue will make a difference.

George Siemens gave a presentation  “Learning Tech Strategy in Time of Change” as part of a week-long set of sessions – Corporate Learning and Innovations 2008 – that discussed a range of issues partly about the tools but did get at the cultural issue. Between the next presentations, that George moderated with David Weinberger (The Cluetrain Manifesto see chapter five), I got a chance to talk with George and my struggle with the third paper for CCK08.

The heart of the issue comes down to the scalability of the conversations that occur within these “bottom-up” Communities of Practice (CoP) and the need for leadership within the institutional frameworks to nurture the innovations that occur from the bottom up.

No easy or scripted solutions exist. There are, we agreed, some exemplars out there – Caterpillar on the corporate side and in government retired General Frank Anderson, President of Defense Acquisition University (DAU). Frank Anderson’s leadership has transformed a traditional brick and mortar institution with a redirected focus to its graduates/practitioners. The focus of the faculty and the institution’s emphasis is on the needs of the graduates/practitioners outside of the institutional setting – a commitment to their lifelong learning needs. That’s an example of leadership nurturing “bottom-up” Communities of Practitioners that has successfully bridged the cultural chasm and scaled the number of conversations.

The other issue that emerged from David Weinberger’s discussion with George, along with the scalability one, is rewarding collaborative contributions. David introduced the idea that we will require new sets of metrics — not solely based on quantitative metrics but also qualitative indicators. The qualitative factors might be – the person that is the sparkplug that energizes the team, or the person whose skills bridge differences, or a demeanor that embraces the diversity of views and adaptive in their approaches, etc. In the end though, it is still about a value proposition so that the quantitative and qualitative metrics are measuring the individual/communities value creation by leveraging their connected network.

October 2, 2008

CCK08: How do I Know and How do I Learn?

Filed under: CCK08 — Tags: , , — Frank Polster @ 1:24 pm

Frank Polster, Director Army Training Information Systems

Abstract

As a learning theory, the most compelling and strongest points are Stephen Downes’ first two core assertions for Connectivism –

  • “knowledge is distributed across networks” (of people, increasingly aided by technology) and that
  • “Learning is the act and process of forming and navigating networks”

I accept the theory of Connectivism at face value as a condition to testing its validity. Determining it’s validity as a learning theory and it’s applications to produce adaptive, flexible problem solvers is the litmus test that I am seeking to apply to the theory of Connectivism.  Week 3 discussions on networks connected the dots for me by connecting Connectivism to communities of practice (CoP). The nature of the CoPs that I participate in, nurture new knowledge, stimulate innovation, and share explicit and tacit knowledge across virtual networks. CoPs as an application of Connectivism answers the litmus test. These connected networks allow me to dynamically solve/define problems; acquire new patterns by matching and comparing against stored patterns; and then prioritize and resolve the confusions and validity of the information through dialogue within the networks of people and aided by technology.

This is how I know and how I learn or as Stephen would say –

“To ‘know’ something is to be organized in a certain way, to exhibit patterns of connectivity. To ‘learn’ is to acquire certain patterns” (Downes 2005, Section O, ¶ 2).

How do I know I know and How do I Learn?

This paper examines my initial position on Connectvism after the first 4 weeks with the likelihood that the remaining 8 weeks will bring a continued maturity of the position.

“How do I know?” and “How do I learn?” are the questions that most learning theories attempt to address. Part of my understanding of Connectivism is a function of understanding other learning theories, making sense of my own learning experiences, and then placing Connectivism in an applied context.

My understanding of why and what behaviorist, cognitivists or constructivists believe in is cursory at best. As a freshman I was introduced to a “Skinner” box and came to understand how a rat’s behaviors are modified/shaped through rewards and penalties. The jump to how behaviorism applied to knowledge and learning in people was understandable. I got an A in the course with the right amounts of rewards and penalties. That does not mean that I “know” what behaviorism is, it just says I successfully learned the pattern of the maze.

From a theory point of view, I am comfortable with the cognitivists’s situated cognition (Lave, J., Wenger, E. (1991). I’ve seen some evidence from the Games and Learning Society , from Jim Gee’s (Situated Language and Learning (2004) and Steinkuehler’s work on MMOGs (Massively multiplayer online videogaming as participation in a Discourse (2006). The motivating, highly interactive, and immersive nature of “serious games” is compelling as a learning modality. Gee’s works about this modality makes the point that social identity is crucial for learning and that –

Good learning requires participation-however vicarious-in some social group that helpslearners understand and make sense of their experience in certain ways. It helps them understand the nature and purpose of the goals, interpretations, practices, explanations, debriefing, and feedback that are integral to learning. (Gee 2007, page 23)

Steinkuehler reinforces this point on her studies of networked MMOG when she says

Through participation in a Discourse community, an individual comes to understand theworld (and themselves) from the perspective of that community. Thus, semantic interpretation is taken as part of what people do in the lived-in world; it arises through interaction with social and material resources in the context of a community with its own participant structures, values, and goals. (Steinkuehler 2006, page 3)

This form of situated learning within a networked social-wrapper displays some of the same characteristics of Connectivism’s networked knowing and learning.

I have observed constructivists implementations and applauded a more student-centric model with the instructor providing assistance through a variety of scaffolding techniques to aid in problem solving and knowledge acquisition. I have even seen an implementation where networked communities of practice are part of the formal and informal structure of the course where learning is facilitated by the instructor, classmates and the community of practice members.

Connectivism and Other Learning Theories

“For many, the debate of changed modes of learning does not require an explicit statement. They sense it in their work, how they communicate, and how they learn. These individuals are not focused on what, if anything has changed theoretically. They are asking different questions than we are attempting to answer with dated theories.” (Siemens 2006, Conclusions page 38)

I would argue that a learning theory is necessary but not sufficient. It provides a foundation to build on and a framework that describes it’s structural character but it is not sufficient in detail to show where and how the utilities are emplaced or constructed (nor is intended to).  It may be that learning theories are part of a continuum – building on each other and modified based on answers to a new set of questions going through a dialectic process of theses, antitheses and synthesis.

Is it possible and is it likely that Connectivism is an extension of other learning theories like situated cognition? Is it possible that Connectivism has its roots in, Lave and Wenger’s theory of situated cognition (Lave, J., Wenger, E., 1991) and Wenger’s work in the field of communities of practice? (Wenger, E., 1998)

Is it possible that when Stephen says Connectivism is “knowledge distributed across networks” (of people, increasingly aided by technology) and that “learning is the act and process of forming and navigating networks”— is that much different from John Dewey’s description of education as essentially a “social process” where the quality of education (learning) is realized in the, “…degree in which individuals form a community group”? (Dewey 1938, page 58)

In my simple mind, Downes, Wenger, Gee, Steinkuehler and Dewey are describing networked communities of practice (CoP) and how it’s members know and learn.

Connectivism and How I Know and How I Learn

As a learning theory Connectivism’s most compelling and strongest points are Stephen Downes’ first two core assertions –

  • “knowledge is distributed across networks” (of people, increasingly aided by technology) and that
  • “Learning is the act and process of forming and navigating networks”

I accept the theory of Connectivism at face value as a condition to testing its validity. Determining it’s validity as a learning theory and it’s applications to produce adaptive, flexible problem solvers is the litmus test that I am seeking to apply to the theory of Connectivism.  Week 3 discussions on networks connected the dots with me by connecting Connectivism to communities of practice (CoP). The nature of the CoPs that I participate in, nurture new knowledge, stimulate innovation, and share explicit and tacit knowledge across virtual networks. CoPs as an application of Connectivism answers the litmus test. These connected networks allow me to dynamically solve/define problems; acquire new patterns by matching and comparing against stored patterns; and then prioritize and resolve the confusions and validity of the information through dialogue within the networks of people and aided by technology.

This is how I know and how I learn or as Stephen would say –

“To ‘know’ something is to be organized in a certain way, to exhibit patterns of connectivity. To ‘learn’ is to acquire certain patterns” (Downes 2005, Section O, ¶ 2).

References

1. Dewey, J. (1938). Experience & Education.

2. Downes, S. (2005, December 12). An introduction to connective knowledge., from http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=33034

3. Gee, J.P. (2007, The Ecology of Games: Connecting Youth, Games, and Learning, Pages 21-40 Posted Online December 3, 2007. (doi:10.1162/dmal.9780262693646.021)

4. Lave, J., Wenger, E. (1991) Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

5. Siemens, George (2006, November 12) Connectivism: Learning Theory or Pastime of the Sel

Amused?

6. Steinkuehler, C. A. (in press). Cognition and literacy in MMOGs. In J. C. D. Leu, C. Lankshear, &K. Knobel (Eds.), Handbook of research on new literacies. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

8. Wenger, E. (1998) Communities of Practice, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

[

October 1, 2008

CCK08 -Frank and Mark’s Concept Map

Filed under: CCK08 — Tags: , , — Frank Polster @ 12:38 am

September 23, 2008

CCK08: “What is Knowledge and what is Learning?”

Filed under: CCK08 — Tags: , , , , , — Frank Polster @ 5:45 pm

Dear CCK08 and SCORM 2.0 Colleagues,

I am still trying to make sense of Connectivism and within this week’s topic of Networks. I am revisiting my Week 2 question — “Maybe I am asking the wrong question and it is not “What is Connectivismn but the question is “What is knowledge and what is learning?”.

The readings on networks go me thinking of Knowledge Management (KM), Etienne Wenger’s, the theory of situated cognition and his more recent work in the field of communities of practice. KM is an area that I‘ve spent a bit of time studying and practicing. Part of why KM works for me is that it bridges the issue that Jay Cross poses on Formal vice Informal Learning and part of it is that KM focuses on the Human Performance (Joe Harless), the outcome, or the so what. I think the larger issue is that if learning is a life-long pursuit, then my gut instinct says informal learning, communities of practice (CoP), KM, and Connectivism are part of that learning process along with formal learning.

I say to folks, that 20% (at most) of what you learned about doing your “job” you obtained from formal schooling and the other 80% came from on the job/informal channels. I think we can do better in the 80% arena.

From a theory point of view I am comfortable with situated cognition (Lave, J., Wenger, E. (1991) Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation). I’ve seen some evidence from the Games and Learning Society and from Jim Gee (Situated Language and Learning (2004) which places video games within an overall theory of learning and literacy and shows how they can help us to better understand human learning). I’ve found Joe Harless’s Human Performance approach effective (where most successful interventions on performance problems have nothing to do with training solutions but management practices and human engineering interventions).

Is it possible and is it likely that Connectivism is an extension of other learning theories like situated cognition? Is it possible that when Stephen says Connectivism is “knowledge distributed across networks (of people, increasingly aided by technology) and that “learning is the act and process of forming and navigating networks”— is that much different from John Dewey’s (1938) description of education as an essentially a “social process” where the quality of education (learning) is realized in the, “…degree in which individuals form a community group”?

In my simple mind Stephen and Dewey are describing networked communities of practice (CoP).

Thanks Frank

September 18, 2008

CCK08: Am I asking the wrong question?

Filed under: CCK08 — Tags: , — Frank Polster @ 5:10 pm

Dear, CCK08 and SCORM 2.0 Colleagues,

Well we are halfway through week 2 of the Connectivism and Connective Knowledge Course and this Wednesday’s forum on Elluminate had a conversation between Stephen, George and Dave Cormier on this weeks readings Learning Networks and Connective Knowledge , Shifting Knowledge (from Knowing Knowledge) , Rhizomatic Knowledge (Dave Cormier). “What is knowledge” and “what is knowledge in connectivism terms” appears to me to be the fundamental thrust of the readings and discussion.

The discussion on objective knowledge and subjective knowledge reminded me of philosophic discussions on what is truth or beauty – interesting but un-resolved. I am beginning to think that trying to understand the theory of connectrivism will fall in to the same category – interesting but unresolved.

Maybe I am asking the wrong question and it is not “What is connectivism? But “Why is this learning theory or others important?”

I ended up watching a keynote address by Chris Dede at the 2007 Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning – “Emerging models of learning/teaching via cyber infrastructure” and he had a story that I thought that was appropriate. His daughter was about to enter college and she asked him what she should major in. He thought it was a gratuitous question since he was paying the bills but he surprised her by saying I don’t care what you major in. He continued to say, that whatever you major in, it ought to be something that machines don’t do well (e.g. history, English)

Chris had earlier discussed the need for literacy’s that provide you with the skills for problem finding (not solving) which are (1) expert decision making and (2) complex communications. His example on expert decision making was taking a car to the dealership and finding that it still doesn’t work after the machines performed all of their diagnostics. That’s where the mechanic/expert decision making came in and the problem finding. The complex communications example for me came from this week’s reading from Stephen. His metaphor was no one person has the knowledge on how to fly an airplane because that knowledge resides in connected network of folks and internet appliances – air craft mechanics, pilots, aircraft engineers avionic databases, etc (it’s distributed on the network). Problem finding will come from a person’s ability to navigate through that connected network of people and appliances. Stephen’s bottom line core assertions for connectivism (the first two) –

  • knowledge is distributed across networks (of people, increasingly aided by technology) and that
  • learning is the act and process of forming and navigating networks.

Now to another connected thought on what machines do well and are increasingly getting better at and the idea of knowledge also residing in internet appliances. In Wired Magazine’s July issue, Chris Anderson had a article, The End of Theory: The Data Deluge Makes the Scientific Method Obsolete. He suggested an alternative/better way to the scientific methodology (a method used to determine objective knowledge?).

He uses Google’s use of algorithms to find things we search for where massive amounts of data and applied mathematics replace tools like theories of human behavior, linguistics to sociology. “Who knows why people do what they do? The point is that they do it and we can track and measure it with unprecedented fidelity.” For lack of a word for the methodology I call it the petabyte method which “allow us to say: Correlation is enough” Now, I am not trying to equate data and information to knowledge but it is part of the connectivism equation of how we learn.

So after all of this the so what for me came out of Pat Parslow email when she said –

To produce adaptive, flexible problem solvers (which requires education on top of training), it would seem to make sense to use communities to provide a wide-band range of information across a number of topics and let the mind of the learner do what it does best – pattern matching and prioritizing, and resolving confusions.” – Pat Parslow

September 15, 2008

WEB 2.0 and LMS’s – Do we need a SCORM 2.0 Spec?

Filed under: CCK08 — Tags: , , , , — Frank Polster @ 6:47 pm

Dear CCK08 and SCORM 2.0 Colleagues,

I sometimes forget that the most difficult problems can be solved with a compelling business case. Take the issue of Web 2.0 technologies e.g. wikis, blogs, social networks etc that are becoming part of the fabric of the informal learning industry.

“LMS vendors are busily adding or recently have added wikis, blogs and social networks to their core offerings” says Bryan Chapman a long time learning strategist and a respected reviewer of learning technologies over the last ten years. The rhetorical question is “Why, when most Web 2.0 tools are basically free?” The answer says Bryan is “for years training teams have been working to eliminate content silos in our organizations so we don’t continuously wonder “who has the master content”. Without careful planning, we may end up with redundant and sometimes conflicting content embedded inside our core learning technologies, learners will be able to search the entire repository, whether created by an instructional designer or contributed by regular employee, and leverage the contend t across both domains.”

This sounds like a compelling business case and I don’t think we need a SCORM 2.0 specification. What do you think?

Thanks Frank

September 12, 2008

CCK08 – SCORM 2.0 and Connectivism

Filed under: CCK08 — Tags: , — Frank Polster @ 12:48 pm

SCORM 2.0 Colleagues,

I recently enrolled in an online course “Connectivism and Connective Knowledge (CCKO8)
taught by George Siemens and Stephen Downes with 1,900+ other folks from around the world. What drew me to the course, besides Downes and the learning theory, Connectivism – was that the theorist is also “eating their own dog food”. The course uses those Web 1.0/2.0 tools (the LMS is Moodle, a wiki, blog, podcast, online conferencing video/audio, online collaboration tools, CMAP etc). The curriculum is rather straight forward in that it has readings, lecture, discussion and reflection.
The real differences from the traditional “brick and mortar” are the tools which have the common denominator of being Web Enabled. So far nothing really out of the ordinary from what we are thinking about for SCORM 2.0, or are there?

I know we are all probably sick of hearing the word Web 2.0, but I think it’s significance is really about the journey most of have been on for the last 20 plus years. That day began when we got our “first Mac” or Toshiba laptop, or when we “discovered the internet using Gopher”, or wrote our first program, or built/taught your first online course or attended your first standards meeting.

We have seen and will continue to see technologies that “have substantively reduced barriers to content creation” and increased “opportunities for continuous communication” and we have seen “amazing opportunities to experience a reality beyond what we would physically experience regularly” (George Siemens to eFest in New Zealand on The Unique Idea of Connectivism – available here at eluminate
George’s take, and I agree, is that “Web 2.0 is only just the current instantiation and we should not build education just on wikis and blogs that will fade”. Does anyone doubt that there will be a Web 3.0?
Something like a 3D-Web as an example which is waiting in the wings?

Now for the so what for me from George’s pitch that applies to SCORM 2.0
— Do we need an LMS? “LMS’s are a technology that forces a methodology or an approach to a view of learning on learners. We need an approach that gives the learner optimal control.” This thought runs through quite a few of the SCORM 2.0 papers, and deserves additional thought, discussion and consideration.

I am not advocating that we throw out SCORM 1.0; for the current installed base it works (minus sequencing), let’s just leave it alone and move on.

SCORM 2.0, as a principle will need to look at a loosely-coupled set of web services, so as fads fade (both technologies and learning theories), the enduring ideas will persist and we are not forced to throw the baby out with the bath water, re-architect or reengineer. We need a solution which is flexible enough to be able to ebb-and-flow with the ever-increasing speed of technology innovations (tools) and can adjust as learning theories and learning methods adapt.

Thanks Frank

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.