Saturday, April 28, 2012

Moncton On Top

Responding to comments on the Globe and Mail article,  Moncton on top after surviving recession, government austerity. Also posted to Moncton Free Press.

Bilingualism is an asset. Yes, it means you have to be more educated to get a job; speaking one language isn't enough. But having a more educated workforce is an asset.

But bilingualism is only one aspect of Moncton's revival. When I moved to the city in 2001 many of the services it now supports were underdeveloped. It had a tiny NB-standard airport. The retail sector was underdeveloped. It was difficult to access medical services.

The new highways to the east and west had not yet had an impact and the Confederation bridge had only been open a few years. In the early 2000s Moncton combined its infrastructure with a new airport and aggressive positioning as a regional service centre.

The health services sector has boomed, with a proliferation of clinics and pharmacies opening. Major national retailers (finally) moved in, providing competition for the NB-specific retailers that had prevailed until then (I remember when Home Depot opened that Kent (Lumber) finally extended its hours).

The redevelopment is not yet complete. Moncton has invested a lot to become an entertainment hub - with the new Casino, stadium, and concert facilities at Magnetic Hill - but needs to continue to support the transition of downtown to a business and entertainment hub. It's starting; we're finally seeing apartment buildings go up, but more needs to be done.

All of this results from people taking calculated risks and making an investment. The city benefits from demographic shifts as rural NBers move in, but it is mostly based on a willingness to build toward a prosperous future. There are always sceptics who will say, for example, that a football stadium is not feasible, or that a such-and-such a concert will not be a success, but we work toward these things and make them happen.

It also results from people who are involved in the community and want to make a difference. I've made a habit of telling people in the city, "everyone here is in the tourism business." And more: it's the people who lobby and build biking trails and parks, the people working for their school system, the people raising money for health services, the people who helped develop the municipal plan, the people who understand that the city belongs to all of us. That's a spirit that is new in New Brunswick. We don't work for some company. We work for each other.

When I travel and show pictures of where I live their first reaction is how beautiful it is. They've never have heard of Moncton, but I tell them about the well-educated people who live there, the work ethic and desire to succeed, the sense of community and concern for everyone's well-being, and they begin to understand why I would work and live here rather than in Toronto or New York.

I've seen the Stones and U2 here, I've spent a month camping by the seaside, I've walked through dense forests and tasted maple syrup right from the tree, I've seen my first pro basketball game and revisited my love for the CFL, and I've made a home here.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Rise of MOOCs

Responses to interview questions posed by Kevin Charles Redmon, Independent Journalist and Middlebury Fellow in Environmental Journalism
1. Are MOOCs an idea that were floating around the halls of universities for some time now, or was the first one in 2008 really a watershed moment?

Many of the ideas that go into a MOOC were around before CCK08 but that course marks the first time the format came together. In particular, we would point to David Wiley's Introduction to Open Education course, which was offered as an open wiki (later called the Wiley Wiki - see ) and Alec Couros's open course ECI831 - Social Media and Open Education (see ). These two courses were of course influenced by other work in the field - the concept of open education, in which Wiley was a pioneer, with a license preceeding the Creative Commons licenses, the open wiki, which of course was made famous by Wikipedia, and more.

What makes the MOOC offered by George Siemens and myself different was that it was a distributed course. This is what enabled the 'massive' part of 'Massive Open Online Course'. The software developed to support the course - called gRSShopper, written by myself - was designed to enable the use of open educational resources (OERs) and to aggregate student contributions nwritten using their own weblog environment (and later, discussion boards, Twitter, Facebook, Delicious, and more). I've been working with aggregators since the beginning of RSS and of course have been influenced here by the work of people like Dave Winer and Aaron Swartz, among many others. The OER movement itself has roots in the open access movement, which created the Open Archives Initiative, and eventually the UNESCO OER program.

What made CCK08 a watershed moment was the realization that the use of distributed open resources would support - with ease - an attendance in the thousands. We weren't expecting 2200 people in CCK08; George Siemens has quipped that we were expecting about 24 people, if we were lucky. After all, the course was devoted to a pretty obscure topic - the theory of Connectivism, a pedagogical theory articulated by George and myself. And the software and course design were the first to explictly invoke the theory, and to focus on connections rather than content, which suggested the distributed and connected approach.

2. Did you expect to see MOOCs explode in popularity so quickly, giving rise to these new online academies - like Khan, Udacity, Coursera - that hope to provide Ivy League level courses to anyone with an internet connection?

I'm not sure whether I expected the format to take off so quickly, but I was not surprised at all that once it proved successful it would be adopted by the Ivy Leagues (who would receive credit for its 'discovery') because this follows a well-established pattern in our field.

The idea of open licensing existed well before being made famous by such things as GPL and Creative Commons - I've mentioned David Wiley's open license, and I have discussed in other work (such as the MUDLib open licenses by Lars Pensjo and George Reese - The Open Archives Initiative software and specification was developed in Europe, but became MIT's more widely used and well-known DSpace. Open educational content was also around before being made famous by MIT's OpenCourseWare. Someone from Yale has been annoited the expert on Edupunk. Learning Objects, the Learning Management System, Learning Design specifications - there were all developed elsewhere.

I never had any doubt that the model itself would be successful. Though we hear a great deal about the quality of learning resources and the need for credentials, the demand from people without access to any university resources has been consistent and strong. There is a large following throughout the world for all this work in open online education, because it eliminates one of the great advantages the wealthy have always enjoyed over the poor. And with open access, we can work on things like quality, assessment and credentials on an ongoing basis.

3. Of these recent start-ups, Codecademy and Udacity both specialize in teaching students to program computers and write code (either Python or Java). Their founders say that they'll branch out into other areas, such as the humanities, hard sciences, and social sciences, with time. (Coursera lists a few humanities courses on its website, but none are currently offered.) How successfully do you think professors can teach, say, Shakespeare or Heidegger, via a MOOC? Computer programming lends itself to an online module, with assignments than can be auto-graded. How optimistic (or pessimistic) are you that poetry, art, and physics can be similarly taught?

The Codecademy and Udacity haven't faced some of the issues in massive open online courses that we've already faced. My background is in philosophy, my first open online educational resource (which has also been widely popular over the years) was "Stephen's Guide to the Logical Fallacies," launched in 1995. and really due for an upgrading (I am considering offering a 'Logic and Critical Thinking MOOC' in the fall to do just this). We offered a MOOC in 2010 called 'Critical Literacies', which was another humanities course. And of course we've seen a lot of activity in open online learning in Philosophy, from the Dreyfus course in Existentialism offered through iTunesU to the series of podcasts being created by Peter Adamson at King's College London

It's actually very easy to create self-marking quizzes - I remember the software, Hot Potatoes developed by Martin Holmes at the University of Victoria. There is a full set of IMS test question and interoperability specifications. There is even essay-marking software  - Wired covered it in 2001 (my coverage ). So if people want to go that way there's plenty of oppportunity. But it won't happen.

One of the characteristics of our MOOCs that is not a part of the Codecademy and Udacity model is the understanding that the evaluation of learning is not about testing for content acquisition. We say explicitly that the content is the "McGuffin" - it is the thing that gets people together, gets them talking, gets them thinking in new ways. The content could be very different - the AI course, for example, could have opted for very different content, or it can get away (as it did) with quickly-created hand-drawn videos and lessons. And people can learn and remember this content - even without understanding the material. So while you can test for content acquisition, you need to think of assessment as something quite different.

In the MOOCs we've offered, we have said very clearly that you (as a student) define what counts as success. There is no single metric, because people go into the course for many different purposes. That's why we see many different levels of activity (as we also saw in the AI course).

With respect to actual assessment and credentialing, there are two basic approaches (or three, if you count badges (see the Mozilla badge program), but I don't really). The first is the Big Data approach - instead of using a few dozen data points, which is what the testing regimen does, you track a student's activities and construct a profile from the full spectrum of his interactions with the material and other learners. This is the work of a field called 'Learning Analytics' (which should be 'discovered' by the Stanford-MIT nexus any time now). The second, which is my own approach, is a network clustering approach - the idea is that in a network of interactions in a community, expertise constitutes a 'cluster' of activity, and a person's learning can be assessed as a form of proximity to that cluster. The Learning Analytics and Network Analysis approaches are not mutually exclusive.

What does this mean in practice? Let's take the study of Heidegger. There is a worldwide community of people who are interested in Heidegger, centered around some of the experts (such as Dreyfus, for example). The people most expert in Heidegger tend to communicate with each other, and to be followed or read by the rest of the community. Other Heidegger clusters also exist and are followed to a lesser degree by the experts. Heidegger novices begin by following a MOOC in Heidegger and gradually contributing their own thoughts (the process we've described is 'Aggregate, Remix, Repurpose, Feed Forward'). As they contribute the work they offer is read by, and talked about by, other people. They are, in essence, 'recognized' as having mastered Heidegger by other people who have already mastered Heidegger.

This is what actually happens in the pre-internet world; you can graduate with a PhD in Heidegger but nobody will hire you unless you have made a contribution to the field that is considered remarkable (literally: worth remarking on) by others in the field. You can study and pass all the tests you want in order to be a brain surgeon, but you will never be one until you have been recognized as such by someone who is already a brain surgeon, and this through a long (and arduous) internship process. Exams and creddentials are shorthand used to create a screening process, but this is no longer needed when the entirety of network data is available to employers and other experts.

As time goes by, the people at Codecademy and Udacity will understand that the community that forms around the courses or subjects are a lot more important than the content. They will discover (if they look) for example that people return to courses they've already offered because these people know they can establish their credentials by participating in the community and helping other people. Whatever their own assessment methods are, they will be superceded by the actual assessments made by their community as a whole. After all, when 248 people get a perfect score in the course how else do you establish which of these really understands, and which of these just remembers well?

4. The founder of Udacity, Sebastian Thrun (also a Google fellow and Stanford professor), talks about his motivation to launch the site in terms traditional academia being too privilege- and class-based, and saying that we have a duty to use technology to bring education to the millions of folks worldwide who don't have the opportunity or money to spend four years at Harvard or Yale. Do you similarly feel that academia is too rigid and privileged, and would be improved be being deconstructed and "flipped"?

Yes. I've spent a lifetime pursuing this objective.

But let's be clear about exactly what this objective is. It isn't about (as the OECD report was titled) "Giving Knowledge for Free".,3746,en_21571361_49995565_38659497_1_1_1_1,00.html  That is, it isn't about the wonderful rich people engaging in charitable work as some sort of civic duty (as though that somehow made they wealth OK). It's about actually empowering people to develop and create their own learning, their own education. So not only do they not depend on us for learning, but also, their learning is not subject to our value-judgements and prejudices. We (those of working in MOOCs) have also been clear about the influences of people like Ivan Illich and Paulo Freire. And it's not just about 'flipping' courses. It's about reducing and eventually eliminating the learned dependence on the expert and the elite - not as a celebration of anti-intellectualism, but as a result of widespread and equitable access to expertise.

None of this happens by magic. There isn't some 'invisible hand' creating a fair and equitable education marketplace. The system needs to be built with an understanding that personal empowerment and community networks are the goal and objective.

Friday, April 20, 2012

LCT Poll

I have a quick Twitter poll - I'm considering offering a MOOC in logic and critical thinking starting in September... informal yet rigorous

First question - would you be interested in this, looking at about 12-13 weeks

Second question - I cannot offer certification (badge only) - would schools accredit work done in the course if they did their own marking?

Third question - would you pay to have assignments marked & commented by me? How much? (Hypothetical only, I'm already employed (for now))..

Please answer in the comments. (Please indicate which question you are answering - a plain 'NO' isn't very useful (if forceful)). Thanks.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Notes from Tallinn

Notes from the April 11 talks at the Learning in a Digital Age Conference in Tallinn, Estonia. My presentation at the conference draws largely from these notes.

Steve Wheeler

- Creative Commons intro
- Twitter intro - "Connect with professionals just like yourself all over the world"

- Warlick: "For the first time we are preparing students for a future we cannot clearly describe."
- describing old-style spirit-based duplicators
- recall creating programs on the BBC microcomputer for nurses - early 80s
- you don't give people knowledge, you give them literacies and skills - teams, etc

- switch off for 60 seconds, what would you miss? - Kelly Hodgkins - if you aren't plugged in you're going to be left behind

- social media use - eg. FB - 850m, Myspace 260m, etc - Wikipedia - 14m articles
- when you challenge theories, that can sometimes be disconcerting

- connection - sharing a moment in time - even though all the media are covering it - sharing with people they know - SD will talk about connection

- drowning in technology, tsunami of content - we create theories to try to deal with this...

- first theory - flipped classroom - definition
- my argument is we've always been doing this, why rename it? people making money off it - the problem isn't the name, problem is we aren't doing ti right - Sal Khan vis MOOC vs TED
- we need to cut past the idea that it's all about students watching video at home
- the real flip: I become the learner, and the students become teachers - because we learn by teaching - we have what I call "bearpit pedagogy" - we let them fight it out, debate it - arguing from both sides

- second theory - learning styles - lot of nonsense
- one true thing - as many learning styles as there are people
- problem with learning styles: trying to pigeonhole students into categories - defines students by the activities you impose on them based on what you believe as teachers
- Fleming - multi-modal learning - we have all these abilities, we should be challenged in all areas
- done all over again - situated learning - deeper learning comes from all three
- Mumformd (activist - reflector - theorist - pragmatist) - copied by kolb -
- Frank Coffield - "serious conceptual confusion"

- third theory - learning in large orgs cannot be personalized - let's keep the factory model going, batch delivery of students
- individual differences need to be acknowledged
- consider - 4 people in a family in the 1950s, 70s watching tv - "we are family"
- vs Wii are family - having unique individual experiences in the same social context - the idea of individualized learning - the idea that you can access anything with a personal tool
- model of PLEs

- fourth theory - digital natives
- "my students were immersed in tech and know nothing else" - so I don't need to teach students how to use tech - and I don't need to learn it
- some children digitized before being born, but doesn't follow they are digital natives - theories focus on the idea of being born at a particular time
- vs myth: picture of old people using computers - grandfather 'LOL' for the first time last year
- it's nt about how old you are, it's about the purpose and context you use tech
- David White - Oxford - visitors and residents

- 4a - ban mobile phones - because they are used wrongly
- but if tech like mobiles used effectively, they can be very liberating

- 4b - cultural / digital divide
- what does "wtf" mean? "Welcome to Facebook"

- language is organic, language is evolving - many new words added every year
- David Crystal - techs pulling language in new directions

- BYOD will be happening much more
- they will be capturing what you say, maybe even broadcasting it out
- but mst teachers like to close doors - this will be a challenge to you - whether you like it or not - blogging live, tweeted live - you can be misrepresented, but it's important to understand students what to create

- the idea of digital cultural capital - identification through digital mediation
- Peter Yeomans - mobile phones forcing people to become more literate - without the ability to txt they cannot communicate with peers

- fifth theory - tech is neutral - like a delivery van - but - McLuhan - we sha[e our rtools and then our tools shape us
- eg. touch tools - intuitive interface - natural gesture - connected to learning network

- learning is changing - Alec Couros slides - consume, remix, organize, share

- sixth - wikipedia is untrustworthy - can you trust what you read online? (Edison quote about the internet) - learners need "digital wisdom" - need to appraise what they're looking at
- "Darwinism" - the wisdom of the crowd, what happens on Wikipedia - new crowdsourced evaluation tool
- new: course credit for Wikipedia page
- community as curriculum

- seventh - twitter is all about breakfast - titter is about much more than trivia - it becomes a stret corner, a broadcast channel, an amplification tool

- John W. Gardner - giving cut flowers when we should be teaching to grow plants
- students today are tech savvy


The problem is, some people misinterpret theory, then it becomes myth, then it becomes fallacy - Prensky - "digital fluency, digital wisdom" - the myth is created with the theory is misinterpreted

- changing names for roles? "If you name it you tame it" - maybe not so much true in the new age - I don't think it's about naming things - that's where the myths come from, from people naming things and categorizing

- will grassroots activism force government change - response: was happening when web 2.0 came in - students were able to go outside institutional tools
- the idea of government mandates - always out of date


Kristjan Port - sports medicine

- not an expert on elearning and I don't want to be, so be kind, don't shoot me :) - there might be some dark thoughts between the lines -
- title - 40 minutes for modern time - a lot happens in 40 minutes

I'm trying to understand how elearning happens in modern times - I think about what happens in 40 minutes in a classroom. I think the idea is that in 40  minutes life will be better the world will be better, or people wouldn't sit there for 40 minutes.

Time is relative - depending on which side of the bathroom door you're on. Teachers and students, they're also on different sides of the door. Students are sitting there with legs crossed, saying "hurry up".

Idries Shah - Afghan writer - guy meeting nice looking guy - Satan - but Satan is ugly - "My friend, you have been listening to my opponents."
- where do we get the idea that something that seems nice is good in the long term. Elearning- looks nice - but we've been with it for 10 years - but is it nice, actually?

We find traits in ourselves from the animal world - we haven't actually got very far - 5, 6 million years is actually a short time - the book "The Inner Ape" - read it. Learning and biology - is there something that we've forgotten to notice?

Development: a phenomenon of positive feedback. If we succeed, things will get better, if we have money, we can make more money. Positive feedback. If you do the right things then you will survive and feel good. If you do the wrong things you will get hurt, get diarrhea, etc.

Imagine we build a robot and sent it to a planet, where there's something we need, like an ore. So we program the robot, "the more you mine, the better you feel, the less you mine, the worse you feel." And so the robot learns to know himself, and tries to learn how to mine more. But then the robot finds the 'feel better' button. The robot then focuses on how to press the button.

What motivates a human being to develop, to move on? It's in the central nervous system, where we get dopamine, and we press this button - and the outcome is the culture of cheating. So. eg. artificial sweetener, caffeine, drugs, 'green', Facebook, etc etc. and technology is in this mix.

So what is the feeling of elearning? It gives us a confused feeling, good and bad.

10,000 years ago - our forefathers had to be successful, otherwise we wouldn't be here. In this community they had about 300 items, in Manhattan they have 10 billion items. x33 million times. So what are these things, in the cash registers, in the shops?

Humans are about 40, 50K years old. (less? : enters a racist trap) Our forefathers made maybe $100 per year per capita - bits of meat, bits of skin. $200 in the last 250 years ago. We can't compare these.

The way society is nowadays, to run it, somebody has to buy these 10 billion items, and to buy them we have to spend more than these items are actually worth. There was a time when there was not enough goods, not there is a surplus.

This feeds into culture is - culture feeds into the goals of education - it's not how wise the consumer is, it's how dumb they are, otherwise they wouldn't spend more than things are worth.

The internet wasn't introduced because it was good for providing education. The internet was about information exchange, for selling goods. This is wat propels Google, Facebook, etc. - this is what propels us to want to make information exchange more efficient, and this is what propels the rest of life.

That means we are less useful to ourselves. It was difficult to study - everybody gained their education, but the further we go away from these problems, we're learning but we're not gaining any knowledge. The modern lady is better educated, but she can do less, she has fewer skills - she doesn't cook, she doesn't sew - she knows how to gain more education, that's it.

Training - how training has developed. Look at agriculture. Try to understand what has happened in the field. Trying to understand nature and trying to solve the problems That meant you had to be independent. Talking about telemedicine - we were in Portugal, we gave people electronic devices, but a third of the people were illiterate - but they were just thrown into the fields and they were able to survive.

Eras: agriculture through to industrial age - trying to understand the process of machines. Nobody needed an artist, but you needed to do the right thing at the right time. The IT era is charaterized by the world being more complicated, the need to multitask, etc. You have to be able to analyze, it's not know-how, but know-what. Lifelong learning. The pension age will eventually be 75.

The school system hasn't changed from the industrial era. Can we use this approach for the modern era? We can't - we have to reform schools. Education was historically a ticket to the middle classes and to white collar jobs, where you don't work physically, you only manage information. Feeding into the consumer culture, that wants everything to be cheaper, that's the hedonist approach.

Consider films - 'Tarzan' is long and boring. 'Bourne' isn't. We have to capture the attention of the consumer. Attention has become an effective mediator. 'Clicks' become the business plan. All the experts are sitting in Silicon valley writing algorithms in clicks. But there is something makibg us do this. We have to invest in attention. The information revolution will choose the most efficient media, and this will change our way of living, and then the change will become the goal. It's not need that creates the change, it's fashion.

Consider the U.S. fruit industry - it used to be central, now there's only two people, a human being and a dog - the human being presses the button and feeds the dog.

You ahve to relearn, to work for multiple companies, a new career every few years.

What is elearning? Trying to gain the attention. I remember in my school days, it was difficult to focus on the teacher. Now elearning tries to gain your attention 360 degrees. A teacher has become more expensive - if you have a teacher and a classroom, you can't make this more efficient. And things are becoming more expensive. How can we compensate for this expense? learning becomes the answer here, and the problem is solved - it seems so. But education still becomes more expensive.

How can we make learning cost less? There are certain means - magnetism, electricity. "Dr Scott's electric girdle". Electricity and magnetism are wonderful ways of curing things. "Buy this device and it will make you better." This device will make education better.

Patent - how to shoot birds in a clear field (hide behind a cow). Suddenly change happened, the many companies became a few, and they are the ones who run the markets. The first phase is the slow phase and everything seems OK, but the final phase is very fast, are we ready for it? E-learning is attractuve - but can it actually reach the student to gain the education?

Do we take into account what elearning means for the physical body? The dog - "I'll just drool a bit and see what Dr. Pavlov does." Students today and then did not what to take textbooks to schools. The kids always say "give me something  new, if you buy me this thing I'll do my homework." But we know it's not true But we need this little bit of cheating.

Informal learning - it is rich, emotional, cannot be measured - but there is a conflict, feedback is inadequate, people fail. We diagnose attention disorders - and attention disorders have gone up 350 percent - but we misdiagnose. People are looking for a better school, a different school, that will give us a better... something. We'll just diagnose something, just like that.

Do schools create risk? No. Do they create meaning? No. Critical self-analysis? No. In computer games people fail 84 percent of the time, but they go back - but when schools fail, they just give them the middle finger. And we diagnose a disorder.

I remember once, I entered the classroom through the window - it's much more interesting to enter through the window.

We want to search for meaning in our lives - does school offer it? No. Does work? No. What does? Games - play.

There used to be a time when there wasn't enough information. It used to depend on who wrote the book. With the Gutenberg press, information became a standard. Carl Bridebbaugh - used to run the U.S. historical society - says literacy is falling - in the 1960s - because of the transistor radio. He imagined a machine that would read books for us.

He was wrong - there was more data - and we can't actually remember the data. We create more and more information in the process. In e-learning - is this the result we want to achieve? If we see a shark - we understand it's dangerous. But if there is no shark, it's even more dangerous. When the sharks have died out then we're in deep shit.

If we innovate the tools of learning, then the schools will change - but are the schools ready to lose power, their position in society. Replace the shark fin with ths school - do we really want a world without schools. It's not the positive drive, it's a consuming drive, this drive to learn.


Q. Is elearning really wrapped, shiny and new? It feally came as a Satan, it was ugly and not accepted by most. Now it's different, but that's a different discussion. Also - one of elearning's objectives is to help us manage the ever-growing amount of information, to help us select the right thing.

Response - yes, Satan is ugly - but it's just a second to change into something nice. You ask children what they want: "No books, no books, just a game, games." And on filtering: we need to get education back to being selective - there may be 20 different types of jam on the shelf, but the owner knows which one he wants to get rid of, and draws attention to them.

Q. What's the constructive program of yours?

A. It was once 'keep smiling be happy'. Then there was a pessimistic period, where you had to express your feelings. Then there was the in between version, the neutral version. It always depends on how big a picture you want.


Mervi Jansson; InnoOmnia Learning Solutions

- the world of education in Finland, pretty much in silos
- and then there are the boards, the experts, who play their own games
- this is what we wish to change in InnoOmnia

- we wanted to look at the trades, the service sector - not just technology
- we wanted to take the idea of innovation and business parks and apply that to service and vocational education
- we wanted to foster creativity, thinking out of the box, but also the idea than learning can be fun, but also the idea of resilience, because learning can be a tough job
- innOmnia is about lifelong learning, it's about serendipity (that's why I like twitter), but also about entrepreneurship - e-learning, m-learning, etc. - are goals to help people meet their goals
- it's about people and teachers learning for themselves, hopefully having a better life (reflection on how people view lifelong learning as negative - "oh God I'm never going to be out of school.")
- also: confederation of finnish industries - competence needs study - came up with 9 insights:
- ability to learn and work in networks (vs silos of education and the working life)
- ability to improvide
- readiness to grapple problems with an entrepreneurial zeal - in Finland ent. and ent. thinking are embedded in every part of the discipline. - perhaps we should have some sort of rotation where teachers have to go out and make their own living somehow
- ability to add value by combining competences - eg. Nokia hired only engineers, and that's where their problems started
- born global - if we think of Angry Birds, if they stayed only in the Finnish market, that would not mean very much bread and butter
- listening to and understanding people's needs - vs. "living out loud" - int the future, a bob is to be a 'listener'
- learning in ubiquitous environments
- teacher = enabler and teamworker
- divergent thinking - creativity in everyday life

- we often think it's about technology, but in reality it's about people - what are they ready to do, how can we lure them into doing new things

- InnoOmnia brings together students, teachers and entrepreneurs - a mixture of age, education and experience - we believe in this mixing and mingling
- it creates new and natural opportunities for learning - 40 entrepreneurs who rent office space from us - but we want something out of them, we interview them and ask them what they will contribute to the community, how will they add value? It's not just cheap rent - there's no such thing as a free lunch.

(SD - if there's no such thing as a free lunch - then society would be filled with dead babies)

the learning landscape looks like this:
- peer-to-peer learning, including teams of 3-5
- on-the-job learning
- they have projects with our entrepreneurs
- m-learning - when they start they are given an iPod, and training on using it
- game-based learning

What we believe is important is acquiring skills in context, so it has a real meaning for students. We want to create opportunities to fail, but also succeed.

Teachers play multiple roles in the system. A lot of teachers teach the way they were taught themselves, and when they come for training, they regress back into being a student, very passively. We dont allow that - the teacher participates, produces and consumes information.

The intent is to bring out the expertise in everyone - somewhere along the line everybody does have expertise than can be shared. We're going from a world of one solution to multiple possibilities. Yes, they do get a diploma - but that's not where it ends.

Teaching should be about empowering people - and the best place to start is with yourself. There aren't excuses (no time, no internet) - if there's a will there's a way.


Q. What is your education? You are not graduated from teacher college, who taught you how to teach?

A. I have 10 years experience, and a teaching degree. And 15 years experience as an entrepreneur.

Q. Who should pay for network-based education: state, EU, commercial ad vendor...?

A. If we do not give, we will not get. The institutions that hire us should give us time. But also, I don't believe in a 9-5 job. The notion of 'teaching time' is in the past.

(The answers are always in the equivocations)

If we thought of learning as entrepreneurship - we would do a lot toward ending poverty. (My response: oh good, magic thinking.)

Kristjan Korjus; University of Tartu

Contrast between Manchester and Tartu
- fixed enrollment system (Manchester) vs open organization of studies (preferred by audience 60% - 40 )
- tutoring system - should it be employed in Estonia?

Feedback to staff - students give comments, instructors reply
Also, quantitative feedback at the end of the course - all answers are public and can be viewed by all students - you can look up an instructor and see a table of all the questions for each instructor - so people can choose eg. between an instructor that is precise, who e=inspires, who speaks well, etc.
(+ 70 percent attendees favoured)

Materials - very comprehensive - everything available online, lecturers had to explain why they were standing there. Do you support a system where all materials are available? (85 percent say yes)

Clickers - in Manchester, they are loaned to students, and in 3 years time you return it and get your deposit back. You use it in every lecture. Mostly content-related questions. So both students and lecturers get direct feedback. Example of a professor stopping and re-explaining a key point. In math, computer science, they are not very communicative - they are good at what they do, but not communicative. "When they see that people don't understand their subject they lose their complexes."

Technology itself doesn't give this added value - it's something else, the will, or the motivation, of people. What is it that makes it so different? There's less hierarchy - the professor isn't so much on the pedestal.

Video - protest at Manchester - against the idea that education/university being turned into a commodity - "As students we occupied a building and made ten demands to the university." They occupied for a week, and after the week the university complied. Imagine if you did this - after this, it's your university - you don't skip classes any more, because this is your university, the way you wanted it. (demands were about library opening hours, smaller practical class groups, about having to buy study materials, about financing, etc).

Young people are the way we raise them, this is their view of the world, that they get from their elders. (most people voted in support - 90% plus)

"The students must do it on their own. Academic staff cannot make students protest against their university."

Q. by acceding to their demands, didn't the uni show they were commercial?

A. yes, you can answer it like that - they demand more education, which makes it seem like they are consuming a certain product.

Allison Littlejohn; Glasgow Caledonian University

social, economic and political imperatives - why we have to redevelop learning

we're living in a society that's changing rapidly
- concerns about the environment
- stem cell research
- energy demands / with environment - I work with Shell & BP whp say the easy oil is gone

Hardt and Negri 2004 - political society and the transformation of society
- knowledge work - labour that is not restricted to material production but penetrates also the social, the political, the cultural and ultimately life itself

Three trends in society:
- increased trading in knowledge
- bigger problems to solve
- distributed expertise

People have to learn how to solve these real world problems more effectively

Banksy: "If graffiti changed anything, it would be illegal"
- what have schools done in response?

IBM global human capital study:
- industry needs an adaptable workforce
- change in  organization

Why collective knowledge?
- what is it? the knowledge that is out there, it's in tweets, papers, ebooks, etc. - sometimes in people, sometimes codified

- how do people make sense of collective kn
- how do people use it?
- what are the binding forces that draw people together?
- what literacies and mindsets do people need to learn in this way/

Theoretical perspective: activity theory
- tools
- roles
- community
- rules

Siemens: "Learning is a process of creating networks..."

In a study we did with Shell International, we looked at how people develop expertise. Wanted to student the problem of distributed teams. New graduates took between 5 to 7 years to become competent.

Method: used use cases, critical incidence method. Questionnaire, interviews. Asked about a critical incidence o opportunity people had to learn at work. The problem is that the learning is so embedded with work people don't realize they're earning.

What we found: people first connect, then they consume or use the knowledge, then they create new knowledge (eg. an artifact, a report, a conversation, or traces in the way they create the knowledge), and then they contribute this back to the environment. Above all this, we have to find a way to enable this - we cann that 'charting' - it's not just navigation, it's about using and contributing. Charting can be viewed as a kind of lens, a way of interacting with everything that's out there.

Some prototype tools were developed, and are being tested with PhD students. Used Google Swirl to visualize knowledge (didn't really work).

Use case: from 'you' to 'your goal'. Sally the new chemist, who has to create a new substrate for drilling a new type of rock. You draw from a whole range of different resources. You also draw from knowledge of a different range of people. At any point, you may be working as an individual, group, network, collective. You connect, create, contribute. Or you join with others with similar goals. You have to be able to connect with the right sort of expertise.

Is this a new paradigm for learning? In this case the individual is learning with the collective - we're bringing together the individual and the social. So our roles must be changing.

What are the binding forces that draw people and/or resources together? via social constructivism: people communicate via knowledge objects. People create knowledge, working in networks. Eg. from OU - an iSpot - people go out to the country and find things, upload images, and a botanist answers their questions.

We need something - an object - that brings people together. But what is that object? In charting, we use a goal as that object. If people are trying to achieve a similar end point, this draws them together. But - goals shift and change, and not every activity works toward the goal. So we think of it as an iterative move toward a goal. So there are various social objects:
- work or learning activity
- reports (eg. patient health case report)
- common problem (eg. find Higgs boson)
- learning goals

What literacies and mindsets do they have to have? Because this is very unstructred and very different from the sort of learning they have today. Seely Brown wrote about 'open participatory learning systems' (2008) - what factors lead us toward this?

UKOER Program study: problem - rapid development of knowledge. method: design-based research. They have been creating and releasing OERs. Method: Analysis, Design, Evaluation, Devising key principles. Using 'activity system' criteria (Engstrom 2005).

We identified some tensions, which may be specific to OER, but may generalize. Eg., tension between traditional resources, normally assessed within a stable educational context, and OER, assessed in several types of context. It means that the rules in the educational environment don't apply to the open world. Also tensions around the tools people are using - resources were thought of as static resources, but many OERs are dynamic, being constantly changed using social technologies. There are tensions around different roles - what is the motive for anyone to release an OER: promoting individual vs. promoting the university. And again a tension between tightly bound communities vs. loosely bound networks.

We are not seeing a response to these tensions in prctise, so there is a very long way to go.

Valjataga and Fiedler - all this places a much greater onus on students to select, use and manage their own technologies,

Banksy: can we follow our dreams? What would we do in a world where we were responsible for our learning?

Tools - allow people to make sense of the information

roles - shift

rules - are changing

Q. What are the new tools? Community - 15 years old. Social object? They might have their own social objects.

A. We view the social object as being the leaning goal. That goal can be a work goal as well as a learning goal.

Q. - 16 year olds, they have no idea - we are failing them - I'm sceptical - I don't think the trend on IP is the way to be versed. Placing a very high price on sharing.

A. To have a level society we have to have a way for everybody to contribute.


Arthur Harkins

Student futures:
- responses to global trends driving labour force need shifts
- technological drivers behind those shifts ranging from teh prosaic to the contemporary to the futuristic to the fantastical to the magical
--> we get to the point where we can no longer predict anything, we can barely forecast, we have to shift our methods of adapting to change

So, how can we create education systems that cope with the unknowable, to make uncertainty a commodity? Deliver educational services to whomever wants them and is willing to pay for them. The old vertically organized ministry of ed, inevitably it will be too small, too late, too unresponsive.

- Leaders are gradually 'norming' the knowledge age (Plaid collar workers) - they are learning to react to change by making decisions, but you need a proactive approach, making decisions ahead of the the change.
- Some in leading nations think of education as preparing students for the information age - as though it's the 1970s - white collar work. They want to plan a future - but why not an 'accidental future' where we kludge our way with social networking?

- Failures: NCLB - fact-oriented, where the facts are disassociated with one another (blue collar) - this is real and very serious, graduates of NCLB are totally incapable of coping

- A few decades ahead: wireless digital from orbit - individualized learning contracts for all students, including part-time, working and even retired; wide band wireless; reassignment of physical campuses.

- In the next 10 years, education will have shifted, Knowledge-based learning for kowledge industries (making the knowledge decision-ready).

- 20 years - connecting wirelessly to cranial implants, multi-sensory experiential learning - "the venue for all learning will be the individual's own body (and consciousness / pre-consciousness). The social and personal distinctions between work/non-work will be broken down.
   ( "I sing the body electric" )
Learning will become situation-specific. Eg. we will be able to fly an airplane even if we have never done so before. -- thereby bypassing most of the education or training periods of time.
- also: students upload their experiences, cogenerate their learning; the distinction between student and faculty begins to break down. More like apprentice and sensei.
- software will replace repetitive work whenever possible - knowledge workers & innovation workers will be at least 50% of the work force in 20 years

- 30 years - the singularity - we can't forecast very well - but...
- as the doubling time of knowledge speeds u, by the time you graduate, half what you learned is useless - you're competing with systems that run 10 times faster
- adjunct brains - the cyborgs - as these systems are developed, the costs go down
- in 30 years - the *average* person is a developer or debugger

- the purpose of education shifts to adapt to AI and other things, where the greatest goal of citizenship is to create the future - working with scenarios, images, visions, stories - to look backward from them to the present


1. student-centred scenarios - uniqueness development focus creates graduates capable of functioning as articulate proactive individuals

2. Think-tank scenario - adapt to the changing labour force requirement by outrunning it and creating their own businesses (people who invent all or most of their own world)

3. Free Electronic Higher Education On-Campus Development Teams Scenario - graduates who work in teams to produce patent or copyright materials while learning 'basics' through free ad-supported stuff

4. Services-based curriculum - grads work in a student culture that prepares them to work with other grads like themselves from similar programs

5. Global citizen product - holistic approach creates grads that can work in emerging global cultures - they use language translation devices and in-country experiences within global systems development models

6. Old economy personnel development scenario - look for the stars, grab them, give them money and support of all kinds, get them money and get them placed.

7. Family centred convenience product - aka Home College - where you're theoretically able to eliminate 90 percent of the cost of going to college - to without a scholarship take a Harvard-level education - eg. MIT and Stanford have developed these curricula for free

8. Experiential innovation scenario - we reward students by paying them to go to college, because they are able to do things we need to have done - experiential in advanced contexts.

Nobody knows the future, nobody can know the future, but we can create scenarios and work toward the ones we want.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Artificial Legs in Thailand

Responding to Harvard Business Review blogs, wherein it is stated, "Doctors in India and Rwanda do not know anything more about the science of eye care or cardiac surgery or treating HIV/AIDS patients. But they do know how to deliver quality care at lower cost. By comparison, there is something highly inefficient about the health care delivery in the U.S. — and much to learn from poor countries."

If I want my house cleaned in Canada, it will cost me $100. The same work in Thailand will cost $10. It's not because house-cleaning is so much more efficient in Thailand, it's because we pay them one tenth of the wage. That - though unacknowledged - also applies in the present case.

And even more so. This is particularly troubling: "He hired amputees as technicians to do the fitting and help with rehabilitation and training with new patients. This approach had several benefits. First, it dramatically reduced costs..." It may cost more for professionals in developed countries, but that is because they are qualified to do the work.

In Thailand, Jivacate won't need to worry about this. His clients will not be able to afford legal representation if the inferior material breaks, wears, is fitted poorly, or causes additional harm. Indeed, he probably has few insurance costs of any kind to worry about. Or professional costs of any kind, beyond his own expertise.

This article fosters the impression that health care can be just as good if performed by amateurs at poverty-level wages using waste materials. It is misleading not only because it represents the two types of service as equivalent, it is misleading because it represents the high cost of health care in the United States as being caused by materials and professional salaries.

Compared to Thailand, such a proposition may carry a ring of truth. But compared to other technologically advanced nations, where equal-quality health care is offered using the best materials and highly-trained professionals, it does not. The equivalent care costs twice as much in the United States as, say, Canada, not because of the quality of the cause, but because of the high overhead created by a private system.

In the United States, where there are commercial temptations aplenty to cut corners on staff and skimp on materials, insurance and litigation costs are disproportionately high. Additionally, there is the overhead that must cover profit for private investors. There is the expensive allocation and billing system to maintain, and a system of private insurance coverage that is completely unnecessary in, say, Canada.

Jivacate's methods are merely stopgap methods in a nation that cannot afford professional service for all. But the way forward for Thailand will not be best served through private specialists offering plastic legs and amateur staff. A national program providing basic essential care will do more for Thailand than all the yogurt containers in China.