Friday, October 21, 2011

Self-directed Learning of Individuals and Groups

For the past 11-12 years,  I have been absorbed by learning about, and participating in, the incredible expansion of options for finding  and expressing, sharing, debating, etc.,  observations, news, knowledge, criticism, etc. online. And in the accompanying individual, group, institutional and societal efforts adjust to the now free means to locate, create and communicate knowledge to self, group and the general thinking public.

As my competence with web-related skills grew so did my  belief in the positive possibilities that open up with blogging. Something special was going on; one-to-one, one-to-group, one-to-all communication  and knowledge building efforts were now easily undertaken by those  technically or situationally under-equipped for the task.  As a case in point,  I found it to be empowering for me as a learner and as a teacher. But, this was just the beginning; there were broad-scale implications which could alter the social and technical ecologies within which  thoughtful and not-so-thoughtful individuals, institutions, societies, nations , etc.,  existed.

The impact was not simply on interpersonal, organizational or academic efforts. An expanded capacity for public, reflective individual or group learning (with the possibility for content-interested and/or qualified strangers to sign on to existing efforts) can have broad implications for a quantum shift in how we think, solve problems, and productively work with each other to make new and useful knowledge.*

Initially, blogging offered comment possibilities for individual blogs. Then came group blogs, private and public--- also with response capabilities for a defined or an open public response. Groups, first informally and then deliberately, created blogs ... purpose-built blogs that had been opened to the public or to a tightly defined group. "Suddenly" the notion of geographic or organizational limits on joint problem solving -- being told by bosses/leaders or the local "knowledge/belief culture" what will be solved and when -- became  antiquated. Knowledge creation and problem solving efforts could involve interested strangers and forbidden (by family, organization, country) collaborators. Work toward the creation and dissemination of locally uninteresting or forbidden knowledge-making  was now possible.**

     For example, the actuality of  new enabling forms of communications has allowed the formerly oppressed and 
     disenfranchised to organize and sustain  revolutions in Libya and Egypt, to speak up and organize in the US and,
     quite probably to resist and "out" , here and abroad, the many hypocritical, ineffective and illegitmate aspects of
     the US presence and policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

     In Libya Gaddafi could not shut down a resistance by newspaper censorship and displays of army and police
     power and brutality.

        Communication and organization--using, for example, blogs, twitter, etc. -- was sufficient, evidently even in
        the face of the usual bullying displays. There were cell phones and blogs to enhance communication and
        resistance, He no longer had the near absolute power  to stifle or shut down revolutionary organizations
       (without taking the country totally off the power and  communications grid). I am guessing here, but the web,
       generally, and the use, specifically, of  blogs,  twitter, email with easily disguised location and idenity probably
       had something do with the strength, persistence and, ultimately, success of the revolution.

It's taken us awhile but we are now seeing that our blog-based efforts to share, reach out, communicate and include others in our content building concerns can have quite positive results ---sometimes with implications for grand, even revolutionary change.
All of this because of the ability to recruit the involvement of strangers, those not part of our normal circles,  as collaborators in knowledge-making efforts which have no appeal -- or which are even forbidden -- in our immediate surroundings.

* Please excuse historical inaccuracies --- this passage is no doubt historically sketchy. -- but is sufficiently accurate to serve as an illustrative stand-in for the transition that actually that took place.
**Yes, it is a double-edged sword, benefit wise. But more on that another time.


The knowledge and social universes are changing.

Picture the potential [this imagined future scenario occasioned by my Mooc-Opened point of view] having a conversation on any topic with anyone.

When I think of  independent knowledge acquisition 20 years ago--
One example might be a library search of 25 years ago versus the search we might conduct today.

25 years ago:
   I use the card catalog to look up documents on "peace-making of the 17th century Algonquin ".  
   If I'm socially and technically able enough, perhaps when I find only three titles and two  
   authors that make sense, I can get the librarian to help me fine tune my search. Perhaps I end up with
       5 books that are all somewhat on topic and intelligible. --->
       4 hours invested --> 3  books with high topic relation and intelligibility.

Now:  I have Wikipedia, I have thousands of possible collaborators -- with face-to-face(online), email, blogger, forum and Mooc resources for information and understanding---no charge, and from home/computer.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Online Developments ... chrome & google-wise

Can't say that I've really got the "full picture-or even the major parts of the chrome picture but news from Google has me checking the nature and differences of "everyday" vs. Chrome existence -- particularly as it affects within-community planning, informal knowledge base activities and group product development endeavors.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"Dangerously" fast pace of exposure to metaknowledge.

Huge access to new ideas, particularly new and expanding uses of online learning/communicating/socializing applications. It would be easy to go into a techno-trance and learn too little.

I think I'll grow and stay focused/sane/functional [my definition, yours is up to you] if I make a weekly plan and stick to it. [Rate of change is so great that making a course learning plan is, at least now, an exercise in deluded, if hopeful,  processing.]

Which reminds me of A. Creelman's  twit, ""The fact that your world hasn't changed doesn't mean that the world hasn't changed."

Have found some support from FreeMind. Using its capabilities to add references and snippets to weekly topics
as they unfold and/or as they can be enhanced by finding other links and snippets from presenters.
This , mooc-based learning systems, is a massive challenge --a multielement challenge to older learning systems designed to provide critical skills to individuals and thus to society at large. If it proves itself via, say, some demonstrable and siginificant difference in energy and resource investment (mooc-caused versus course-caused) per measure of competence enhancement produced, social and fiscal resources may be justifiably be shifted from one method of competence production , i.e. classes in a university, to another, mooc-centered instruction aimed at the same competence delivery.

Stay tuned ... there will be societal and structural changes if Moocs prove themselves. That hasn't yet occurred but the plausibility level of the hypothesis has gained some considerable ground.

I am stuck, at the moment, on a pre-reading I did of David Wiley material and was particularly amused/awakened/jarred by his reconstruction of the last 2.5 millenia of learning/teaching orthodoxy. Summary: no matter how advanced the instructional technology, no matter the acquired excellence previous to or during educational process, somehow only documented sitting  time in lecture is the core measure of your acquired mental maturity or excellence. [His you tube presentation(a brief parody of the future of education ]


*Metaknowledge  -- knowledge about knowledge, particularly about knowledge acquisition.