Clyde Street

Learning, Teaching, Performing


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Edging to Open Learning in Open Spaces

Last week I had the opportunity to visit Ballarat to discuss Edgeless Challenges and Opportunities. I have been thinking a great deal about learning spaces and the function (rather than the form) of the university of late. In part these thoughts have been stimulated by the University of Canberra’s development of teaching and learning commons.

This week I have been overwhelmed by the number of connections I am finding in relation to open learning and sharing. Some of these connections include:

many universities have an educational technology department that is focused on PD. Research institutes devoted to understanding the intersection of education, technology, systemic reform, and pedagogy are less rare. Several years ago, Phil Long (CEIT) and I discussed the need for a collaborative network of research labs/academies/institutes that were focused on researching learning technologies, not solely on driving institutional adoption. Perhaps it’s time to revisit that idea.

  • Discovering A.K.M. Maksud’s 2006 paper The Nomadic Bede Community And Their Mobile School Program after listening to an interview with Irene Khan. Boat schools bring a different perspective on edgeless learning opportunities and mobile learners. (Sharing this paper with a colleague brought me Simon Shum and Alexandra Okada’s paper Knowledge Cartography for Open Sensemaking Communities (2008) from the Journal of Interactive Media in Education and from another colleague Kenn Fisher’s discussion of Mode 3 Learning: The Campus as Thirdspace.)

  • Finding Cisco’s paper (June 2010) on Hyperconnectivity through a Diigo link. Hyperconnectivity is defined as:

active multitasking on one hand, and passive networking on the other. Passive networking consists largely of background streaming and downloading. Ambient video (nannycams, petcams, home security cams, and other persistent video streams) is an element of passive networking that opens up the possibility for the number of video minutes crossing the network to greatly exceed the number of video minutes actually watched by consumers.

  • In the past year, the Cisco paper notes that:

it has become clear that visual networking applications are often used concurrently with other applications and sometimes even other visual networking applications, as the visual network becomes a persistent backdrop that remains “on” while the user multitasks or is engaged elsewhere. This trend accompanies what is sometimes called the widgetization of Internet and TV, as network traffic expands beyond the borders of the browser window and the confines of the PC.

Traditional approaches to community regeneration which define communities in solely geographic terms have severe limitations. They often failed to deliver on key social capital improvements such as improving trust between residents or fostering a greater sense of belonging.

In this report we argue for a new approach to community regeneration, based on an understanding of the importance of social networks, such an approach has the potential to bring about significant improvements in efforts to combat isolation and to support the development of resilient and empowered communities.

  • Noting in Harold Jarche’s post Innovation through network learning that he now takes for granted his “network learning processes, using social bookmarking; blogging and tweeting, and these habits make collaboration much easier”. He observes that:

However, these habits and practices have taken several years to develop and may not come easily to many workers. One difficult aspect of adopting network learning in an organization is that it’s personal. If not, it doesn’t work. Everybody has to develop their own methods, though there are frameworks and ideas that can help.

All this before I started exploring the treasure trove that arrives in my in box each day from Stephen Downes! Early on in the week I noted Stephen’s comment on Education and the Social Web: “A theory of connections can’t be just about forming connections; it has to be about the organization, shape and design of networks of connection, patterns of connectivity. And to me, this means that we need to design learning systems to meet personal, not political, social or commercial, objectives.” Later in the week in a discussion of two MOOC posts, Stephen suggests that: “It’s about attitude and approach. If you’re looking for someone to tell you how it works, you will find a MOOC confusing and frustrating. But if you take responsibility for your own learning, you will find any connection in a MOOC either an opportunity to teach or an opportunity to learn. No instructions necessary.”

This week has underscored for me the rich possibilities that can occur in shared spaces. My thoughts keep returning to Dharavi and the opportunities for personal wayfinding in shared spaces that afford a collective, connected experience too. I am very hopeful that the University of Canberra’s Commons ideas can stimulate innovative use of place, space and time and lead to an exciting edgy practice.

Photo Credits

Kaptai Lake

Hole in Wall

Moodle on the Move

Postscript

A day after posting this I received a link to a delightful flash mob video. I wondered if open learning spaces might stimulate this kind of event.

Other Links

2nd Annual Learning Commons Development and Design Forum, 30-31 March 2011, Brisbane.

  • Learning Commons strategy and organisational structures
  • Planning and design
  • Case studies and best practices
  • Digital information and technologies
  • Online resources


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Personal Learning

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I have had a wonderful opportunity to explore personal learning in my new role at the University of Canberra. There are so many colleagues at the University keen to discuss and explore learning and there is a vast array of forums in which to engage. Last week I attended a Gaggle (“an orderly and cheerful group of professional educational advisors”) which led me to think again about personal learning (the topic for the gaggle was wiki development in vocational education). The meeting coincided with my reading of Steve Wheeler’s Dead Personal post.

Steve distinguishes between the personal web (“a collection of technologies that confer the ability to reorganize, configure and manage online content rather than just viewing it”, Horizon 2009) and a personal learning environment that “extends beyond personal web tools to encompass other tools and resources, such as paper based resources and broadcast media such as television and radio, as well as conversations with other people and so on. Having said that, each and every one of the above could be mediated through web tools, but they are not exclusively so”. Whilst reflecting on Steve’s suggestion and re-visiting the Horizon Report I was sidetracked by the delightful way the Horizon report is shared with readers. I managed to spend the next couple of hours looking at CommentPress as a format for my WordPress blog. (But I missed reading the About page!)

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A week later I was delighted to see that my fascination with a personal web met my personal learning environment when Bob Stein spoke with Ramona Koval on Radio National’s Book Program.  In their discussion there was an exploration of writing as a collaborative process with readers and the Gamer Theory project became a focus for this. Bob raised the question “If a book is a place what is the place of a book” (this post explores these ideas in detail) which lead to an intense discussion of the “broader ecology of reading and writing”. Bob was in Australia to participate in the Melbourne Writer’s Festival (for posts about his participation see here and here.). The promotion literature for his talk on the Future of the Book noted that:

The shift in our world view from individual to network holds the promise of a radical reconfiguraton in culture. Notions of authority are being challenged. The roles of author and reader are morphing and blurring. Publishing, methods of distribution, peer review and copyright – every crucial aspect of the way we move ideas around – is up for grabs. The new digital technologies afford vastly different outcomes ranging from oppressive to liberating. How we make this shift has critical long term implications for human society.

CCK08 opened me up to a wonderful perspective on sharing and collaboration. Many of the participants have added to my personal learning environment in the last year. The growth in Twitter since the start of CCK08 has been remarkable and this is becoming an important filter for me. Although my blog has links to many of the CCK08 participants it was a Twitter exchange between George Siemens and Howard Rheingold that added to my personal learning reflection.

Howard Rheingold has produced some great material this week (social media and mindful infotention) to ignite my revisiting of personal learning.  Seth Simonds in his post encouraged me to think about and clarify why to post (“The internet is not going to die if you feed it less frequently”). When I reached Justin Kistner (via Howard Rheingold) I realised the enormous possibilities for a vibrant personal learning environment (as with Nancy White’s delicious configuration links). This Editis video emphasised for me the possibilities of a ubiquitous personal web meeting the teachable moments created by one’s environment (I noted Tim McCormick‘s point) or as this video demonstrates the lisable qualities of digital technology. Lisa M Lane had two excellent posts this week (here and here) about creating spaces and reflecting on the process of creating these spaces.

Nancy White’s post  about The Social Media Tools I Use brought me back to Steve’ post about the personal web and as ever I was keen to read what Graham Attwell had to say in his posts at Pontydysgu. Fortunately I read Michele Martin’s post about critical thinking so that my decisions about what to consider and share can be enriched by Snopes.

This post is a placeholder for me about incandescent ideas in a week of eclectic reading. It was initiated by a group of colleagues discussing wiki development and concluded at the Melbourne Writers Festival via asynchronous reading and participation. I was trying to write the post whilst listening to the Public Sphere 3 event as a virtual participant. The week reinforces for me the collaborative potential of personal webs and learning environments.

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