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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.

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November 5, 2008

CCK08:Paper #2 From an Industrial to a Knowledge based Economy

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Frank Polster @ 1:09 pm

I would assert that the migration from an industrial based economy to a knowledge based economy has basically caused a shift in training and education and therefore the roles of instructional developers and educators have shifted. I would further assert that in a knowledge based economy, education becomes more of a valued proposition with increased importance spanning the lifetime of the individual and not just during the first 12-18 years. If you believe that learning is a life-long endeavor and not confined to the first 12-18 years of your life, then it follows that the expansion of training and education opportunities, both formal and informal, are likely to occur and grow in importance in knowledge based economy. Affordance of these opportunities will cause shifts – as technology improvements enable free (or more affordable) opportunities and access to training and education across the entire continuum of a life-long learner. I would suggest that the open source movement, the open course projects, the Open University project, the open text book project, connectivism, etc. enabled through Web 2.0/VTEs/PLEs technologies are the leading affordance indicators.

I am reminded of the anecdote I noted in my first paper based on a keynote address by Chris Dede at the 2007 Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning – “Emerging models of learning/teaching via cyber infrastructure” . 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. Problem finding in a knowledge economy will come from a person’s ability to navigate through that connected network of people and appliances. The shift for instructional designers and educators are centered on this knowledge worker literacy’s. The complexity and interdependencies of these literacy’s will require a more interdisciplinary approach in education and research projects seeking to understand the hows and whys.

I have noted a shift in some universities which have implemented this interdisciplinary approach in dealing with the complexity of the domain, both for instruction and with research projects.  The Cognitive Science Program at Indiana University,  as an example of a domain, has a faculty and research team with members from the School of Education, Department of Speech and Hearing, Instructional Systems Technology, Computer Science, Psychological and Brain Sciences, Human Performance, Mathematics, etc.
Since learning is a life long pursuit on the part of a knowledge worker, we see shifts occurring in the Governmental and Corporate institutions as they attempt to adjust their formal and informal training and education programs to meet the needs of our knowledge economy – existing within a complex and often chaotic environment. It is from this side of the continuum that this paper seeks to describe role changes, impediments to change, and current trends.

As within the university domain, structures within the governmental and corporate environment are transforming to a more interdisciplinary approach. The emphasis on people has led to development of Human Capitol strategies that have drawn training and human resources departments closer together, jointly focusing on performance measures, competencies, training and education enablers, accession planning, on-boarding and recruitment, etc.  Within both governmental and corporate structures you see the trend of adding to the C -level staff (COO, CFO, CEO, etc) a new position called the CLO, Chief Learning Officer (as well as the Chief Knowledge Officer and even Chief Education Officer, as listed in the Wikipedia entry for C-level officers). The elevation of learning to the executive management level of these structures is not only an indicator of the importance of learning to the “bottom line” (i.e. ROI) of the endeavor but also an indication of learning taking a more integrated position in the operating structure of the organization, providing value, innovation, and solutions to complex corporate problems encountered by the organizations.

For governmental and corporate educators and instructional designers, the last ten years have seen an increase in the investment and development of online content (courseware, reference material, job aids, electronic performance support tools, etc.), the development of both brick and mortar and virtual corporate universities, and the implementation of Knowledge Management to capture both the explicit and tacit knowledge of the institution.
Whether these investments have provided a positive Return on Investment (ROI) is still generally unknown. There are a few documented cases of ROI showing increased human performance and corresponding increased sales attributable to a human capital strategy of on-boarding and training. The training and educational trend now is more of a blended learning approach, utilizing both face-to-face classroom and virtual learning activities. What is also clear is that the use of technology to enable online learning activities is often a complex process beyond the talents of solely an instructional designer. In most cases an interdisciplinary team approach is the norm, with a project manager, instructional designers, game designers, instructors, script writers, graphic artists, videographers, editors, system administrators, computer programmers, etc. This interdisciplinary trend is likely to continue along with the issues of high cost, a lack of simple, standard tools, and lengthy developmental cycles. The addition of new Web 2.0 technologies could offset some of these issues by leveraging the corporate workforce both as participants and creators of content. However, the tension of control and structure to minimize risks, both in governmental and corporate environment by imposing security constraints and the protection of corporate intellectual property rights, are issues that are diametrically opposed to the current open environment of the Web that has enjoyed a “rip, burn and mash” approach to content creation.

The centrality of the instructional designer or an “instructor-centered” instructional approach has shifted over the last decade to accommodate the literacy’s of a knowledge economy. A knowledge economy requires skills for problem finding (not solving) and requires skills for (1) expert decision making and (2) complex communications. The emergence of connectivism, Web 2.0/3.0, PLEs/VLEs, etc. afford and enable this shift toward more user-participation in learning / co-creation of content, and at the same time pushes the corporate and government toward investing in projects with a positive ROI.  One result is that the “value” created by this shift is measured in knowledge – instead of physical output as before (during Industrial Economy), and it likely requires an interdisciplinary instructional design approach.

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

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October 1, 2008

CCK08 -Frank and Mark’s Concept Map

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

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

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