Monday, December 21, 2009

Aardvark--new learning tool using your network

Collaborative networked learning can be real-time. New opportunities for finding and forming CNL's are taking shape in the real-time Web of people, not content repositories. One such application which shows promise is Aardvark. Aardvark provides a preview of tools in the making.

Working on a learning task, missing critical information to formulate a hypothesis or test out your hunch, you can connect in real-time with Aardvark. You can post any question, and Aardvark will attempt to find a person in your extended network who knows about the topic and is available to answer at the moment.

"Aardvark facilitates these conversations through a very polite IM bot, an iPhone app with push notifications, the company's website, Twitter or email. Instead of broadcasting your question to every one's stream of information, Aardvark delivers the question only to people who are relevant and available."
The Aardvark mission is to get you current answers, not previously published text from repositories, from persons in your own network. Expanding one's network of course increases the possibility of locating someone with knowledge who is available. CNL today is not limited to asynchronous conversation as groups emerge into the real-time conversational web.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Web of identies and forming collaborative learning networks

Social Web of identities and collaborative networked learning
As we move more and more into the world of emerging and rapidly changing information availability and knowledge creation we turn more and more to collaborative networked learning and networking. When we engaging in the creation of networks for learning we want to make sure that we network with others who can help us learn or who might be a vessel for knowledge to facilitate our particular learning.
As social networking in its many forms becomes more accessible and transparent so do the identities and social graphs of the participants. With interchangeable, open social web identity data to accompany the more static stored knowledge data available today we have the identify data necessary to form networks for learning which include the right mix of persons contributing dynamic knowledge along with supporting repositories of more static, stored knowledge. For a brief overview of recent trends in making web identities machine-accessible see the recent entry by Alexander Korth from Read, Write Web.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Preserving Diversity and Avoiding Group Think

If all members of the group have the same shareable Group Learning Environment of authority rated, aggregated content, we run the risk of creating “group think” where all members jump on the bandwagon of the shared meme. When this occurs then the authority ratings will perhaps increase giving “juice” to ideas that the group is accepting without little diversity of opinion. It is equality important, however, for the members to pursue that own specialized P.L.E.’s of interest in order to avoid what has often been called “group think,” when all members agree with each other without expressing alternative opinions and views. Here is an interesting expression of this idea from William Gibson’s blog regarding the Amateur.

“Then send Pamela,” she said. “She understands all that. You have an army of people who understand all that. You must.”

“But that’s exactly it. Because they ‘understand all that’, they won’t find the edge. They won’t find the new. And worse, they’ll trample on it, inadvertently crush it, beneath the mediocrity inherent in professional competence. I need a virtual amateur for this. A freelancer.”

Perhaps we all become Amateurs learning from one another as we preserve diversity toward out goal of collective learning.

Sharable Aggregated Group Learning Environments

Sharable Aggregated Group Learning Environments. PLE and Group
News Aggregators for “Sharable” Group Knowledge base.

Content Process Master for CNL

As part of the planning phase for the group, it is useful to set up predetermined category feeds through the identification of key contributors and the tags that are useful for creating and feeding a sharable mash-up of content relevant to the group purpose(s).
If the group has a leader or moderator, s/he might want to take on role of content process master to help establish and identify evolving content. Or, the role of content master could be preformed or assigned just like any other task role in the group. The content process master will want to determine which news feeds to filter into their shareable learning environments. Robin Good has discussed the concept of news mastering and explained the basic strategies necessary to get started. He continues to demonstrate his mastery of news mastering with his prolific daily service on tools and concepts in social media and collaboration. Michael Kirkpatrick additionally provides a set of steps for getting up to speed quickly by creating a social media cheat sheet. Retrieved February 24, 2009 from

One tool which has been recommended for pulling all the relevant content together is Yahoo, Pipes.
Additionally, work in relation to communication measurement of Public Relations and Marketing, is providing another set of tools for tracking evolving relevant dialogs and perhaps establishing authority metrics. Recently, the focus has shifted from the older methods of measuring the “distributed” messages of marketers to new approaches to measuring the “non-controlled” content. As search engine optimization (SEO) and social networking becomes more a focus of product branding and messaging I see methods for tracking frequency, referral links and time on page, tracking conversations in microblogging streams such as on and identifying the reach and trust of influencers in a market segment being used and refined. I believe we will begin to see new spin off in this field which can serve as models for content tracking, filtering and presenting perhaps through a “learning dashboard,” which make the latest, highest authority customized and delivered to whatever device, where ever we are at the moment.

Creating shareable group learning environment for members of a CNL group helps members develop a common vocabulary and knowledge base relevant to the group goals. By adding the same tags from RSS or Social Bookmarking aggregation, members stay current and have sharable, meaningful knowledge. The the group sharable environment builds upon the concept of P.L.E.'s. Downes, Stephen (2009) Online Learning: Trends, Models And Dynamics In Our Education Future - Part 2,
The personal learning environment is more of a conferencing tool than it is a content tool. The focus of a personal learning environment is more on creation and communication than it is consumption and completion. It is best to think of the interfaces facilitated by a personal learning environment as ways to create and manipulate content, as applications rather than resources
I believe we are building upon the concept of P.L.E. to create group shareable learning environments which require more of a personal commitment for a time and goals for interdependent learning rather than just a loose network of persons dropping in and out.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

"I think, therefore I am" contrasts "We participate, therefore we are"

John Seely Brown, innovator, scholar and scientist weighs in on the differences between the older modes of knowing and CNL modes. Brown contrasts Cartesian individual learning, “ I think, therefore I am” with “ We participate, therefore, we are” mode of learning which allows us to link together to be and learn with one another in a group. In Mind's on Fire: Open Education, the long tail, and learning 2.0, John Seely Brown and Richard Adler contrast the two modes in this way:

The emphasis on social learning stands in sharp contrast to the traditional Cartesian view of knowledge and learning—a view that has largely dominated the way education has been structured for over one hundred years. The Cartesian perspective assumes that knowledge is a kind of substance and that pedagogy concerns the best way to transfer this substance from teachers to students. By contrast, instead of starting from the Cartesian premise of “I think, therefore I am,” and from the assumption that knowledge is something that is transferred to the student via various pedagogical strategies, the social view of learning says, “We participate, therefore we are.”

This perspective shifts the focus of our attention from the content of a subject to the learning activities and human interactions around which that content is situated. This perspective also helps to explain the effectiveness of study groups. Students in these groups can ask questions to clarify areas of uncertainty or confusion, can improve their grasp of the material by hearing the answers to questions from fellow students, and perhaps most powerfully, can take on the role of teacher to help other group members benefit from their understanding (one of the best ways to learn something is, after all, to teach it to others).

Today and in the future, we have technology in place that allows us to direct our own CNL into and with a community of practitioners in learning in any field that will permit us to participate in their endeavors

Monday, January 12, 2009

Knowledge Economy and Search Economy:dynamic processes and processing

I was just reading blog entry from Robert Gringely (March, 2008), which adds an interesting twist to Judy Breck’s thoughts on findability and knowledge. Gringely explains that we have moved past the knowledge economy to the search economy. I think of the knowledge economy as more static something that you can hold onto or possess while search is more dynamic and in process. In my work on collaborative learning-work, I have talked about the process of creating new knowledge; perhaps in the work place we are moving to a dynamic world of meta-knowledge creation as the work and the worker enables dynamic finability for the ever changing purposes of the user.

Gringely in War of Worlds: The Human Side of Moore’s Law explained:

Andy Hertzfeld said Google is the best tool for an aging programmer because it remembers when we cannot. Dave Winer, back in 1996, came to the conclusion that it was better to bookmark information than to cut and paste it. I'm sure today Dave wouldn't bother with the bookmark and would simply search from scratch to get the most relevant result. Both men point to the idea that we're moving from a knowledge economy to a search economy, from a kingdom of static values to those that are dynamic. Education still seems to define knowing as more important than being able to find, yet which do you do more of in your work? And what's wrong with crimping a paragraph here or there from Cringely if it shows you understand the topic?
This is, of course, a huge threat to the education establishment, which tends to have a very deterministic view of how knowledge and accomplishment are obtained - a view that doesn't work well in the search economy. At the same time K-12 educators are being pulled back by No Child Left Behind, they are being pulled forward (they probably see it as pulled askew) by kids abetted by their high-tech Generation Y (yes, we're getting well into Y) parents who are using their Ward Cleaver power not to maintain the status quo but to challenge it.

With this philosophical view in mind, I think about knowledge as the snapshot which freezes the dynamic process of searching.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Howard Rheingold's Participative Pedagogy

The communication technologies which make CNL possible also call upon us to shift our thinking to develop new methods and approaches to learning. We develop me methods, which capitalize upon and incorporate the participatory nature of the technologies and the corresponding literacies. Following a post today from Howard Rheingold on, I was directed to an essay Participative Pedagogy for a Literacy of Literacies. Rheingold strikes again and hits the nail on the head with his comments on Participative Pedagogy and new literacies. I found the following exert particularly relevant and thought provoking:
To accomplish this attention-turning, we must develop a participative pedagogy, assisted by digital media and networked publics, that focuses on catalyzing, inspiring, nourishing, facilitating, and guiding literacies essential to individual and collective life in the 21st century. Literacies are where the human brain, human sociality and communication technologies meet. We're accustomed to thinking about the tangible parts of communication media−the devices and networks−but the less visible social practices and social affordances, from the alphabet to TCP/IP, are where human social genius can meet the augmenting power of technological networks. Literacy is the most important method Homo sapiens has used to introduce systems and tools to other humans, to train each other to partake of and contribute to culture, and to humanize the use of instruments that might otherwise enable commodification, mechanization and dehumanization. By literacy, I mean, following on Neil Postman and others, the set of skills that enable individuals to encode and decode knowledge and power via speech, writing, printing and collective action, and which, when learned, introduce the individual to a community. Literacy links technology and sociality. The alphabet did not cause the Roman Empire, but made it possible. Printing did not cause democracy or science, but literate populations, enabled by the printing press, devised systems for citizen governance and collective knowledge creation. The Internet did not cause open source production, Wikipedia or emergent collective responses to natural disasters, but it made it possible for people to act together in new ways, with people they weren't able to organize action with before, in places and at paces for which collective action had never been possible. Literacies are the prerequisite for the human agency that used alphabets, presses and digital networks to create wealth, alleviate suffering and invent new institutions. If the humans currently alive are to take advantage of digital technologies to address the most severe problems that face our species and the biosphere, computers, telephones and digital networks are not enough. We need new literacies around participatory media, the dynamics of cooperation and collective action, the effective deployment of attention and the relatively rational and critical discourse necessary for a healthy public sphere.
In Using Participatory Media and Public Voice to Encourage Civic Engagement, Rheingold wrote:
If print culture shaped the environment in which the Enlightenment blossomed and set the scene for the Industrial Revolution, participatory media might similarly shape the cognitive and social environments in which twenty first century life will take place (a shift in the way our culture operates). For this reason, participatory media literacy is not another subject to be shoehorned into the curriculum as job training for knowledge workers.

Participatory media include (but aren't limited to) blogs, wikis, RSS, tagging and social bookmarking, music-photo-video sharing, mashups, podcasts, digital storytelling, virtual communities, social network services, virtual environments, and videoblogs. These distinctly different media share three common, interrelated characteristics:
• Many-to-many media now make it possible for every person connected to the network to broadcast as well as receive text, images, audio, video, software, data, discussions, transactions, computations, tags, or links to and from every other person. The asymmetry between broadcaster and audience that was dictated by the structure of pre-digital technologies has changed radically. This is a technical- structural characteristic.
• Participatory media are social media whose value and power derives from the active participation of many people. Value derives not just from the size of the audience, but from their power to link to each other, to form a public as well as a market. This is a psychological and social characteristic.
• Social networks, when amplified by information and communication networks, enable broader, faster, and lower cost coordination of activities. This is an economic and political characteristic.
Like the early days of print, radio, and television, the present structure of the participatory media regime−the political, economic, social and cultural institutions that constrain and empower the way the new medium can be used, and which impose structures on flows of information and capital−is still unsettled. As legislative and regulatory battles, business competition, and social institutions vie to control the new regime, a potentially decisive and presently unknown variable is the degree and kind of public participation. Because the unique power of the new media regime is precisely its participatory potential, the number of people who participate in using it during its formative years, and the skill with which they attempt to take advantage of this potential, is particularly salient.
Rheingold, Howard. (2007) "Using participatory media and public voice to encourage civic engagement." The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning: 97-118.