SIMNET Weblog

April 19, 2010

Open Course on Education Futures -Introduction “Frank’s why”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Frank Polster @ 5:50 pm

As I looked through the first week’s assignments I got kinda of excited like when I first started the CCK08 – something new, a new perspective, a new set of tools, a new set of skills, a whole new set of connections and a new adventure. I am back to my blog, that I used during CCK08 and it’s nice to be back after sporadic usage.
I come to this course not as a educator but as a life long learner who is on the informal learning side of the spectrum. I also approach the “problem” from a HPT/performance/ Joe Harless perspective where the answer to the “problem” is not necessarily a training solution. “Learning” is not the end goal – specific “Performance Competence” is.

So my last touchstone with learning theory comes from CCK08 and 09/Connectivism. During the CCK08 I was exposed to and used a whole new set of tools within the context of a connectivism pedagogy. As I have followed the conversations over the last two years the future of higher education and it’s high costs are headed in the same direction as vinyl records,CDs and printed newspapers. EDUPunk/OER and folks like Siemens and Downes are pointing to an alternative path/future.

At the end of the day, I am looking for a continuation of the conversation that began, for me with CCK08, and I am very much interested in participating in the formation of an “alternative” path.

Thanks frank

April 13, 2009

Part III- Web Services API for SCORM Run-Time Communication

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Frank Polster @ 9:14 pm

For those that were on spring vacation I wanted to update you all on our last meeting which was highlighted with a tour of the project’s software development site on SourceForge.

There was a great discussion led by Mike Rustici, Chuck Allen and Schawn Thropp on the project concept model. There is general agreement on phase 1 and the notion that the authentication by a web services by separating the SCO from the server side opens up a whole set of new possibilities and solutions to known problems e.g. cross domain scripting, synchronous vice asynchronous, multi player access to a SCO, access to multiple LMSs, etc.

Exciting possibilities and it brought back to mind the great set of discussions that we had last summer with the SCORM 2.0 200 plus white papers. From my point of view we have passed from talking about issues and embarked on taking the first set of steps to solving those issues we discussed last summer and came to a consensus about in Pensacola.

As most of you know, one of the things that make LETSI different from others is the notion that we will develop open source software solutions in parallel to pursing a standard. An innovative approach and consistent with our community’s idea that “working code trumps all theories” To that end we discussed our first stab at an IP Agreement.

Simply stated, the IP agreement says:

* You retain ownership/rights over everything that belongs to you that you contribute.

* You grant LETSI and others in the LETSI community who has access to your contributions a royalty-free license to such contributions.

* In turn, LETSI makes its work available under the Simplified BSD license. This is a “business permissive license” that allows derivative works. Under BSD, you are free to modify, use, redistribute LETSI work as you see fit.

Occasionally, members may want to volunteer use of a system or content for testing or similar purposes or might otherwise want to reference or discuss a proprietary system or approach as an example of industry practice. These situations can be accommodated without such materials/systems being deemed contributions — If these situations arise, simply be explicit as to your intentions, record in meeting minutes, memo agreement, etc.

If you are interested in contributing to this effort download and sign the IP agreement. As necessary, bring to the attention of those within your company who need to review. See:

https://letsi.org/resources/LETSI-Contributor-IPR-Agreement-r1.doc

https://letsi.org/resources/LETSI-Contributor-IPR-Agreement-r1.pdf

Sign and email to info@letsi.org or fax to: +1 919-573-9124

Please cc Frank at polsterf@gmail.com

If you are interested in participating but not quite sure dial in to one of our online meetings this coming Wed at 1200hrs EST (15 April) the project’s software developers will meet and the following Wed 22 April the general project members will meet at 1200hrs EST.

The project documentation and dial in information for the Wed 1200hrs EST is:

Project Documents – see: http://wiki.letsi.org/display/Arch/LETSI+Software+Development+Pilot+Project

Date: 15 & 22 April 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

January 16, 2009

2009 Prediction – – LETSI will get off the ground

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Frank Polster @ 2:54 am

With the start of a new year, the learning and education blogosphere is full of 2009 forecasts. Predicting the future is tenuous at best, but talking about is a bit of fun especially when there is the prospect of looking back a year from now and seeing if you were even close. (Some famous bloggers even attempted to review their predictions from 1999, and surprisingly a couple of them fared well even 10 years later.) So her we go – LETSI will get off the ground and promulgate a set of open web services for the Learning, Education and Training community in 2009 is my prediction.

Blogging is a new thing for me so I am going to attempt to give it a bit of a go and hopefully, add to the dialogue of learning, education and training. For those of you that are first time readers please take a look at some of the other postings below that were part of the CCK08 course. I am a big fan of informal learning, Stephen Downes, George Siemens and Jay Cross. I am a recent CCK08 “grad” — I have drunk the “cool aid” and believe in Connectivism. I believe that 80% or more of what we learn occurs outside of formal institutions and the outcomes could be much better on the informal learning side.

I have spent the last ten plus years building automation systems to support Army training in their schoolhouses, and online learning delivery to include training development and training management systems. Throughout this time, I got involved with the standards business as a charter member of SCORM, with contacts to AICC, IEEE LTS, IMS and a bunch of others. At the end of the day standards are interesting but “working code trumps all theories” (Phil Dodd) and that bit of wisdom has grounded me, as well as helped me, to winnow through all of the chafe.

So my first New Years’ resolution is to blog with a focus on learning, education and training (LET) and something called SCORM 2.0. There was a fantastic amount of energy generated over the last summer with the 200 plus white papers and formal comments. I am sure that those of you who attended the SCORM 2.0 Workshop in Pensacola have seen the minutes from the session. Since Pensacola, a small group of folks have attempted to organize your inputs into four buckets – Teaching and Learning Strategies, Architecture, Sequencing and Business Requirements – in order to layout a baseline. All of this is soon to be exposed in the near future.

On the Negative – What not to Build

Now I know folks are a bit bummed out over the depressed economy and I hate to start on such a negative note, but Stephen Downes’s recent post on What Not To Build struck me as a worthwhile starting point as we begin the next phase of describing what SCORM 2.0 could be.

The short version of what Stephen says is – Don’t build a CMS, Don’t build a platform-specific app, Don’t build a Java application, Don’t build a framework, Don’t build an educational game, Don’t build a new standard… WHOA what is this about?

Stephen says, “People are still proposing to develop, or work on, new standards, be they metadata languages, vocabularies, application profiles, and the like. Back in the days when no standards existed, this may have been a good idea. But today, the standards landscape is full. There are standards for every domain under the sun. Things that probably should not have standards – like carrier pigeon messages – have standards. What’s worse, few of these standards projects made any effort to work with or cooperate with existing standards. So the standards landscape is a mish-mash of convoluted over-engineered and competing standards. Unless you absolutely have to, don’t add to this landscape. Work with what’s there and extend it (even if the rules say you can’t).”

As a point in case, I recently  began using a web app called TimeBridge to schedule and coordinate meetings with colleagues – which exemplifies this precise example. They did not attempt to create yet another online calendar program – they instead connected the various online calendars people already use, and let them interoperate (Google, iCal, Outlook, Yahoo etc). The end result is that people can work the way they choose, and still coordinate schedules ACROSS those varied platforms. That is an example of extension and coordination providing added value.

Working with what’s there and extending it needs a little thought on the part of all of us.

Given the diversity of the SCORM 2.0 community, the depth and breath of the participants, the white papers and the emerging notion that SCORM 2.0 will be built on “existing standardized frameworks and service architectures to potentially serve as base of new SCORM functionality”, this bit of advice of what not to build makes sense.

So if you got this far your asking so what is the 2009 prediction – LETSI will get off the ground and promulgate open web services for the Learning, Education and Training community. Maybe it could be along the lines of the e-Framework folks. Here is a sample format/template that also makes the point of extending other folks standards/work e.g. Personal competency profile information service using HR XML

What to you think we/LETSI ought to build in the near term – the next six to twelve months?

Thanks Frank

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.

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 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

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