Friday, December 31, 2010
The article was posted at 3:23 am, Dec 28, 2010. By Noon that day there were seven comments.
Here are the number of comments between Noon - 8pm that day
1 pm 38
2 pm 52
3 pm 35
4 pm 22
5 pm 17
6 pm 8
7 pm 11
8 pm 5
Between 9 pm and and 10 pm there were five more comments and then between 11 pm and 1 am on Dec 29, 2010, there were 25 comments In the 48 following hours there were 4 additional comments.
This does not mean that this contribution is still not being viewed (I don't have access to these data.), but it does mean that at least in this particular case, the commenting on this post lasted about 12 hours. I am sure that the Huffington Post has more data about the pattern of comments, the demographics of the "commenters" themselves, but this does give you a feel for the brevity of the life of a discussion on the Huffington Post and probably many "news" sites.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
I haven't done a systematic analysis, but I would suspect that more than 90% of the postings are about celebrities.
This has made me wonder about whether there are ways to use people's interest in celebrities to teach or to interest people in useful information about divorce, relationships, family life, etc.
Here is an example by one of the editors of Us magazine: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mara-reinstein/what-tiger-woods-jesse-ja_b_801403.html. There are a couple of ideas that probably apply generally to non-celebrity couples such as spending time together and considering who you share information with about your marriage-- for most of us we have little worry about some meddlesome paparazzi or television reporter revealing our lives, but friends and family can be intrusive or harmful in some cases.
But much of what is in this article isn't very helpful to ordinary couples because we don't face the same challenges of high-profile celebrities... so I am not sure if this strategy makes any sense.
It is also possible that "celebrity names and events" can be used to get accidental page views by unsuspecting web surfers or to use as celebrity news events as a bridge to everyday lives. For example, parents fighting over custody as a basis for talking about the effects of custody battles on children and so forth.
I am going to look for opportunities to try out some approaches to incorporating celebrities into my postings.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
As of this morning there were also 300 comments, over 900 re-tweets, and 60+ shares on Facebook. Interesting. The postings are mostly the findings themselves without much embellishment. Six of these studies were in the news earlier in the year, but four of the studies have not had a news release prepared and/or released to the public. Readers also have the opportunity to rate the "most interesting" study and/or findings. Again as of today, the most interesting finding is from Gharzarian and Buehler study of the way in which marital conflict is linked to academic achievement. (complete study here) Again this is a study that I don't think has been in the news in general.
I have not done an extensive analysis of the comments, but they are interesting. Some indicate that there are some savvy readers such as this comment that shows the author is quite familiar with the research literature and methods:
"There is an entire academic industry based on exploring the impacts of divorce on children. Most use a cross-sectional design, examining differences between children from divorced & intact households. These designs lead to self-selection issues (despite attempts to control for confounding factors), as children are not randomly assigned to the divorced or intact group. Longitudinal studies, which circumvent these problems, are becoming more common and often corroborate cross-sectional findings, although the effect sizes are typically much smaller. With regards to the tuition finding, an earlier study of Albuquerque men found that men invested most in the college expenses of their biological children of their current spouse, then roughly equal in current step-children and biological children of previous spouses, and by far the least in former step-children from previous marriages. The fact that these effects were found from both the point of view of the child and the father suggests that the effect is real."There are also comments like this one which indicates that some readers make it sound like they understand the statistics and scientific methods, but do not completely understand the source and substance of this work:
"I don't doubt at all that divorce has a negative effect on kids... I have made some comments to that idea regarding public education.
But, while there may be correlation—and maybe some causation—I doubt many of these studies are very statistically significant. Are we really supposed to believe that if our parents get divorced we are 100% more likely to have a stroke BECAUSE they decided to get divorced?
Overall, many of the comments suggest that they are reading the findings and thinking about the issues that are presented. This makes me hopeful about the degree to which behavioral scientists can use new media methodologies to distribute their findings.
Here is a sample lesson on children's experiences of living with with their fathers or mothers after divorce.
In general this work is designed for teachers, but there are opportunities for young people to also contribute or take part in this work. The overall design of this work is nicely done and would be helpful to teachers. In general, there don't seem to be many examples that use behavioral or social science materials, but this probably reflects the fact that these topics do not easily fit most school curricula.
This model might be adapted by teachers and/or curriculum developers themselves to develop lessons from a wider variety of news and information sources.
Here are some examples on the topics of marriage and divorce.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
military service and divorce
patterns of divorce in China
the genetic contributions to divorce
a better understanding of how marital conflict affects children
the risk of former partner violence around the time of pregnancy/birth
perceived household task sharing and marital happiness (or not)
Children with special needs including autism and likelihood of divorce
New online program for stepfamilies that looks promising
New evidence that indicates the effectiveness of mediation programs for divorcing couples
The editor replied that this was an interesting list and asked if I was willing to write short summaries of all of these except autism and the stepfamily program. She either indicated that they already had these or these were less interesting. (not sure of this).
So I began to re-read and summarize each of the articles I had selected on each of these topics. Although this seemed like it would be pretty easy, I suspect that I spent 4-5 hours on this. I spent a lot of time on two articles related to genetics and divorce and I realized I just did not have a sufficient grasp of this science to do a summary that I trusted. One my New Year's resolutions will be to learn more about this area of science so I can better understand developments in this area. Anyway I sent off my summaries which will be edited and become part of this year in review slide show for the Huffington Post. This coming year I am going to spend more time putting this review together and do a quick monthly review of new articles so that I have a better representation of the research at the end of the year.
The following article appeared at the Huffington Post:
Below you will see my original contribution (before editing) of my submission to the Huffington Post.
Military service and divorce
Patterns of divorce in China
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
a) interesting/engaging/provocative opening sentence
b) a couple of interesting practical ideas that could be helpful to someone
c) links, directions, ideas about how learn more or do something to more.
This is one of my better posts in which I feel like I executed my approach well:
Additionally, I cite the research literature when appropriate and I use scientist's names to link to ideas or findings. I am also trying to take a hopeful, but realistic perspective on these issues. To do this I try to distinguish between what can be changed and what can't be changed in order to provide a broader perspective.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
For several years I have admonished and cajoled colleagues about the need for scientists and teachers to use the web as a platform for teaching. (See my comments about the importance of scientists and professionals blogging about the link between autism and vaccines.) When I was approached by the editors at the Huffington Post about being a blogger for their newly launching web page on divorce , I knew I had to do this. I have now posted four posts (about one per week). (See my Huffington Posts work here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-hughes )
My first post on the role of religion in shaping attitudes about divorce got the most (151) comments (both thoughtful and odd). My most recent post on the role of conflict in preventing divorce got the smallest number of comments (2). It is hard to know why one post gets more comments than others.
I will continue to try this medium. Here I will describe my various reactions to "teaching" in the Huffington Post.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
First, he critiques the use of the term "DIY" noting that the emphasis is not on "oneself," but on a group of people, he writes,
"what may be radical about the DIY ethos is that learning relies on these mutual support networks, creativity is understood as a trait of communities, and expression occurs through collaboration. Given these circumstances, phrases like "Do It Ourselves" or "Do It Together" better capture collective enterprises within networked publics."I think his emphasis is right. I have the same difficulty with "personalized learning environments" that seem to emphasize the idea that each of us is some type of autonomous learner rather than emphasizing platforms and processes that engage people in the pursuit of a common understanding and learning.
Later in this article he comments on ideas from Gee (2007) saying,
"Unlike schools, where everyone is expected to do (and be good at) the same things, these participatory cultures allow each person to set their own goals, learn at their own pace, come and go as they please, and yet they are also motivated by the responses of others, often spending more time engaged with the activities because of a sense of responsibility to their guild or fandom. They enable a balance between self-expression and collaborative learning which may be the sweet spot for DIY learning."Again this emphasizes the idea of learning communities rather than individual learning.
The last point in this article is his idea about differences between the Web 2.0 model and "participatory" culture. He writes,
"Despite a rhetoric of collaboration and community, they often still conceive of their users as autonomous individuals whose primary relationship is to the company that provides them services and not to each other. There is a real danger in mapping the Web 2.0 business model onto educational practices, thus seeing students as "consumers" rather than "participants" within the educational process."I have often used terms like "Education 2.0," etc. but Jenkins makes an important distinction that may be missed as we talk about these ideas. He notes a big difference in these models is the extent to which mentoring and scaffolding is emphasized versus service to the business enterprise. Jenkins is reminding us of an important distinction that is critical to the structure of learning communities.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
His blog includes examples of video, audio, blogs and more that illustrate effective way to talk about scientific ideas. In a recent commentary he writes,
"Many academic scientists might consider themselves expert explainers because a significant part of their job entails explaining research to undergraduates in their teaching. But even the most skillful scientist-teachers aren’t necessarily skilled science explainers. Speaking to “captive” student audiences is very different from communicating with any other lay audience, who often must be actively persuaded to be interested in a scientific topic."Educating the public about science is critical to our ability to make effective decisions and to understand how to deal with the many complex problems of human society. We have learned much about the world, but until that knowledge is available and understandable to the public it won't make much difference.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
As I read this, I keep substituting the word "education" or "university" for newspapers and keep asking myself how can be take advantage of these ideas.
Here is a quote about newspapers that has application to education and universities.
"Burdened as they are with these 'legacy' print costs, newspapers typically spend about 15 percent of their revenue on what, to the Internet world, are their only valuable assets: the people who report, analyze, and edit the news."Fallows goes on to note that most of the cost of newspapers in for paper, printing and distribution, not the core aspect of reporting the news.
Now substitute these legacy costs for education-- classrooms, books and you begin to see where we are going.
Fallows describes the conceptual shift that newspapers are going to have to make. He says,
[in the past] "'publishing' meant printing information on sheets of paper; eventually, it will mean distributing information on a Web site or mobile device."The conceptual shift is from viewing the work as "distributing information." In a similar way most educators have defined "education" as face-to-face lectures with some form of testing. We are going to need to begin to see our job "engaging people in learning activities" without reference to the form or location of those activities.
Education will also have to think about its business model in the online world. Fallows suggests that the the new business model for the news business is as follows:
"The three pillars of the new online business model, as I heard them invariably described, are distribution, engagement, and monetization. That is: getting news to more people, and more people to news-oriented sites; making the presentation of news more interesting, varied, and involving; and converting these larger and more strongly committed audiences into revenue, through both subscription fees and ads."This may seem obvious, but Fallows goes on to describe tools that Google has been inventing such as "living stories," "fast flip" and "youtube direct" which seem to have interesting applications to teaching. More importantly, these innovations remind us that teachers need to be asking technologist for the tools that will help us with distribution, engagement and monetization. There are undoubtedly some betters ways to do instruction online that are currently available.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Colleagues from the University of Minnesota are trying to fill in this gap with a survey of parents.
The Parenting 2.0 research project, sponsored by the University of Minnesota, is looking for parents who use the Internet to participate in an online research study. The study involves filling out a 20-minute online survey about how and why you use the Internet. If you know parents or work with parents, we would appreciate your sending the message below to them. Attached, we have also included a message that can be posted on websites or Facebook. Please use the message that best meets your needs.
The purpose of the Parenting 2.0 research project is to learn more about the ways that and the reasons why parents use technology. Results from this study will be used to help develop parent education resources.
If you have any questions about the study, please visit our website at: http://www.cehd.umn.edu/fsos/parent20/
or contact Dr. Jodi Dworkin at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dr. Susan Walker at email@example.com. If you are interested in getting information about the results, click here to sign up to be notified about the findings.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
At one level this seems exactly right. I don't want to have to attend a class every time I have a question or want to learn something. There are a lot of advantages to me learning it at the moment, in the setting I happen to be in. However, as we unpack learning from classrooms, curricula and face-to-face teaching, how to be retain the "structure" of instruction and guidance that were woven into these learning experiences? We still need structures and scaffolding for learning experiences in many cases. Each learner should not have to find their own path through the thicket of fragmented bits of of "ubiquitous" learning. Likewise, teachers (both formal and informal) should all have to build their own learning platforms in order to teach.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
As a part of this initiative Bill Cope and Mary Kalantzis edited a book that begins to explore the idea of ubiquitous learning.
Beginning today and over the next several weeks, I am going to read this book and comment about the ideas.
First, what is the definition of "ubiquitous learning?" Several definitions are offered by the authors of this book.
1. the definition of "ubiquitous" [learning] include[s] the idea that learners can engage with knowledge about "anything", and that this learning can be experienced by "anyone" (Kalantzis & Cope, 2009, p. x).
2. "the process of learning and the products of learning are rapidly merging into ubiquitous knowledge engagement" (Kalantzis & Cope, 2009, p. x).
3. "Ubiquitous learning is more than just the latest educational idea or method. At its core the term conveys a vision of learning that is connected across all stages on which we play out our lives. Learning occurs not just in classroom, but in the home, workplace, playground, library, museum, nature center, and in our daily interactions with others. Moreover, learning becomes part of doing; we do not learn in order to live more fully but rather learn as we live to the fullest. Learning happens through active engagement, and significantly, it is no longer identified with reading a text or listening to lectures but rather occurs through all the senses-- sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste" (Bruce, 2009, p. 21)
So do we need a new term for learning? There many other new terms-- elearning, mobile learning, "learning anytime, anywhere," etc. Bruce's definition above captures for me the central idea that term is trying to convey-- this idea that learning is not set apart from the other parts of living. And, of course, it never was except that as education was formalized and led by professionals, we have tended to ignore the vast amount of learning that was taking place outside of classrooms and formal institutions. Using today's technology tools we can begin to rebuild an integrated learning platform that bridges informal and formal learning opportunities in new and and interesting ways-- this is ubiquitous learning.
But as Cope and Kalantzis note, "Digital technologies arrive, and almost immediately, old pedagogical practices of didactic teaching, content delivery for student ingestion, and testing for the right answers are mapped onto them and called "learning management systems" (2009, p. 4). In short, despite the opportunity to create learning opportunities that are different from our current classroom-based, group instructional model, we use our new tools to create the old model. So how do we do something different, some better? This is the problem that this book is designed to explore.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
"researchers who study learning are increasingly questioning this assumption. Their evidence strongly suggests that most of what the general public knows about science is picked up outside school, through things such as television programmes, websites, magazine articles, visits to zoos and museums — and even through hobbies such as gardening and birdwatching" (p. 813).This goes right to the heart of the idea that we need to build alot of science microlearning opportunities that engage people's interests and lead them into deeper more complex learning activities. In the editorial the author's note,
"This process of 'informal science education' is patchy, ad hoc and at the mercy of individual whim, all of which makes it much more difficult to measure than formal instruction. But it is also pervasive, cumulative and often much more effective at getting people excited about science — and an individual's realization that he or she can work things out unaided promotes a profoundly motivating sense of empowerment" (p. 814).I am in agreement with this statement:
"education authorities need to recognize the importance of informal science education and do more to promote it — if only as a way to motivate students in the classroom" (p. 814).Rather than thinking of science education as either formal or informal, we need to build learning systems that move easily from the informal playful educational experiences to the deeper, richer experiences. This will both foster better learning, but it will be much more fun.
Sunday, February 28, 2010
See the complete talk on the Future of Games (30 minutes).
Friday, February 26, 2010
While the Internet has certainly made higher education accessible to an astonishing number of people from all backgrounds, the idea that learning must reach beyond the traditional, university-educated elite is not new. In fact, the philosophical underpinnings of today’s open education movement can be seen in the life and work of southern activist Myles Horton.
Beyond academic circles, not many know of Myles Horton’s contribution to educational philosophy in the United States. In 1932, Horton founded the Highlander Folk School in an effort to educate poor Appalachian whites as well blacks. A solid two decades before desegregation was even discussed, Horton’s school accepted students from any background, regardless of race or class. Although the school was shut down during the McCarthy era because it supposedly propagated sedition, the school still runs to this day, in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, as an educational research center.
In extensive interviews with Paulo Freire, a renowned South American educational theorist, Horton discusses his views on using education as a tool for social change. These interviews were eventually gathered in a book called We Make the Road by Walking.
In one interview, Horton explains,
“Here in the mountains we’ve had moonshiners and bootleggers, people who make illegal whiskey and sell it…so the phrase I’ve always used when I talk is, ‘You’ve got to bootleg education.’ You have to find a way to bootleg it. It’s illegal, really, because it’s not proper, but you do it anyway.”
In many ways, the Internet itself is teaching the world this “capacity to learn,” simply because with open courseware technology, the emphasis is shifting from the material to the learner. Now, self-learning students, with the help of passionate educators, are directing their own studies, and in so doing, creating their own paths. Internet trends suggest that adults interested in continuing education--the people Horton was most wanting to help--are the ones who are benefiting exponentially from online learning.
The “Cape Town Open Education Declaration” , only one of the many such declarations drafted by important world organizations, including UNESCO, asserts,
"[Educators in the open education movement] are…planting the seeds of a new pedagogy where educators and learners create, shape and evolve knowledge together…”
This statement sounds similar to Horton’s writings.
Although Horton was pushing for education so that the disenfranchised could more actively participate in the American political system, open education through the Internet today strives for similar goals, only on a global scale.
Monday, February 08, 2010
First, this is a 90 minute television program, but on the web the viewer is given a variety of options for viewing the program. First, you can see the 90 minute program in total just like the television program. However, the viewer also can view the program in various other ways. First, the program has been divided up topically such that you can see the themes of the program such as living faster, learning, etc. Within each of these thematic areas, you can view all or some of the various segments. These range from 1 t0 4 minutes in length.
In short, you can watch the program in any order you want to and you can focus on those segments that are of most interest.
Within each of these thematic areas there are places to share stories, comments and discussion by the persons interviewed in the video and other interactive features. Here the program creases to be merely a passive process, but becomes a place to discuss these issues, explore these ideas further and find additional resources on the topics.
This seems to be a good example of what a class lecture could become-- a series of short comments on various themes around a larger idea that invite discussion and interaction among students and the public.
In some cases it shows how homogeneous our movie watching is-- see the pattern for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and in other cases the interesting regional variations-- see Last Chance Harvey.
It is also worth reading the comments as well--- everything from outrage that this data is public to curiosity and puzzlement.
Friday, February 05, 2010
This is a highly unusual step in the scientific publication process, but it reflects extensive review and investigation that revealed that both major ethical flaws in the data collection as well as scientific flaws in the methods.
Beford and Elliman wrote a very thoughtful editorial in the British Medical Journal on this issue highlighting the importance of educating the public. The note that health professionals were reluctant to engage in public debate on this topic. They write,
"If future debacles are to be prevented, professionals must enter the public arena, even though there can be unpleasant ramifications (both the authors of this editorial have received hate mail and an American researcher has even received death threats). However uncomfortable this may be, we must be firm advocates of what is best for children’s health, even if this seems to run contrary to 'patient choice'."They also suggest ways that professionals can talk with parents about controversial issues stating,
"For these parents, providing clear and accurate information on the benefits and risks of the vaccine as well as the dangers of the diseases is only part of an effective approach. The nature of the communication with parents is crucial. They are more likely to respond to a professional who listens carefully and respectfully to their individual concerns, answers their questions honestly and openly, and acknowledges when information is lacking about a particular matter. With this approach, and repeated opportunities to talk, parents who at first decline immunisation may be willing to reconsider."In short, it is not just the information that matters, but how we communicate the information. There are many important lessons to be learned from this controversy over the link between vaccines and autism. See other comments about the autism-vaccine issue.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
John Meacham, Newsweek, January, 2010.
Monday, January 11, 2010
"We can all see that entry into the world of higher education, whether as an individual, department, organization, or community, just became easier. However, this content is typically not credentialed and often is simply lecture material or associated content to review. As such, it is what I call Level One Knowledge-- basic facts" (p.177-178).His point is that for someone who is willing to teach him or herself or for an instructor who is seeking supplementary material this content is helpful, but in most cases it is not possible to have access to teachers and to get feedback or clarification about ideas in these open courses without enrolling in the course or the university.
In this article,AN INTERMEDIA WITH 2 BILLION SCREENS PEERING INTO IT Kevin Kelly, describes the way in which the Internet has affected our "knowledge." I have highlighted sentences that capture the spirit of his thinking.
"But my knowledge is now more fragile. For every accepted piece of knowledge I find, there is within easy reach someone who challenges the fact. Every fact has its anti-fact. The Internet's extreme hyperlinking highlights those anti-facts as brightly as the facts. Some anti-facts are silly, some borderline, and some valid. You can't rely on experts to sort them out because for every expert there is an equal and countervailing anti-expert. Thus anything I learn is subject to erosion by these ubiquitous anti-factors.
My certainty about anything has decreased. Rather than importing authority, I am reduced to creating my own certainty — not just about things I care about — but about anything I touch, including areas about which I can't possibly have any direct knowledge . That means that in general I assume more and more that what I know is wrong. We might consider this state perfect for science but it also means that I am more likely to have my mind changed for incorrect reasons. Nonetheless, the embrace of uncertainty is one way my thinking has changed.
Uncertainty is a kind of liquidity. I think my thinking has become more liquid. It is less fixed, as text in a book might be, and more fluid, as say text in Wikipedia might be. My opinions shift more. My interests rise and fall more quickly. I am less interested in Truth, with a capital T, and more interested in truths, plural. I feel the subjective has an important role in assembling the objective from many data points. The incremental plodding progress of imperfect science seems the only way to know anything."
Using an analogy from the intervention of the printing press, Shirkey suggests that alchemists (who were working on turning lead into gold) failed and chemists succeeded in large part because of how they used the availability of printing to share their work. Shirkey writes,
"The problem with the alchemists had wasn't that they failed to turn lead into gold; the problem was that they failed uninformatively. Alchemists were obscurantists, recording their work by hand and rarely showing it to anyone but disciples. In contrast, members of the Invisible College shared their work, describing and disputing their methods and conclusions so that they all might benefit from both successes and failures, and build on each other's work."In short, Shirkey suggests that developing a culture of "sharing" through print is why chemists and other scientists succeeded... not print itself, but a willingness to share using print.
Shirkey extends this thinking to the Internet writing,
"As we know from arXiv.org, the 20th century model of publishing is inadequate to the kind of sharing possible today. As we know from Wikipedia, post-hoc peer review can support astonishing creations of shared value. As we know from the search for Mersenne Primes, whole branches of mathematical exploration are now best taken on by groups. As we know from Open Source efforts like Linux, collaboration between loosely joined parties can work at scales and over timeframes previously unimagined. As we know from NASA clickworkers, groups of amateurs can sometimes replace single experts. As we know from Patients Like Me, patient involvement accelerates medical research."He notes that although experts such as professor, physicians and others who have held a privileged position in regards to the ability to publish their ideas know longer have that position and that we will "will complain about the way the new abundance of public thought upends the old order, but those complaints are like keening at a wake; the change they fear is already in the past. The real action is elsewhere."
Shirkey suggests that we have the opportunity to use the Internet
"as an Invisible College, the communicative backbone of real intellectual and civic change, but to do this will require more than technology. It will require that we adopt norms of open sharing and participation, fit to a world where publishing has become the new literacy."
Thursday, January 07, 2010
But I find it particularly troubling when a source of information about higher education fails to engage scientific research in a useful and thoughtful manner. In this article,Facebooking Won't Affect Your Grades, Study Finds. At Least Until Next Month's Study Tells You It Will,
Marc Parry provides the worst example of reporting on scientific information.
1. He presents two studies that on the face of it seem to come to different conclusions about the impact of "Facebook" on student grades without any consideration of the methods or approaches.
2. He then compounds this weak exploration of the issue with the citation of the relationship between the use of Facebook and divorce. In this case, he cites no research, but merely provide links to other news articles as if these were sources of evidence.
3. Finally, he concludes with a flip statement that next month's research findings will make counter claims and that all of this is just a matter of "he says, she says" and not really a matter of science.
Rather that provide any sort of thoughtful discussion of the evidence regarding the impact of social networking activities on personal relationships or educational outcomes the reader is left with the idea that scientists studying this issue have nothing really useful to say on this topic.
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
In this chapter Bonk highlights the increased availability of books noting the efforts by Google to scan in books and other projects such as the Open Content Alliance and Open Library that are working to make more books available to people on the Web.
He also highlights efforts to create free open-source textbooks such as those developed by the Global Text Project.
This is truly a revolutionary aspect of the Web as more content becomes available each day. This is a powerful foundation on which to create educational and learning opportunities.
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
Bonk highlights a number of articles in the UCLA magazine about this project and writes,
"The Summer Digs Project is also a virtual apprenticeship for thousands or perhaps millions of online Web surfers....It is quite plausible that many people stumbling on their blog posts from Chile or Peru a few years, decades, or even centuries from now might become energized by them..." (p. 4)Whoops.... if you click on the UCLA Summer digs, you get the message "this blog content is no longer available." This is a reminder that the Web content is fragile and that it isn't always reliable and engaging.
It is not clear what happened to this content or why it is no longer available. You can find a blog about a current UCLA archaeological dig in Egypt... but it seems less inspiring than Bonk's description. For one, there is no mechanism to comment or ask questions to the students or faculty. It looks like there are 5 posts over the course of the fall semester. Nice, interesting, but not exactly inspiring.
None of this means that Bonk is not correct that the Web creates the opportunity to bring the scientific discovery process into new places and engage new people. I have described Folding@Home" as an example of this type of work, but the disappearance of this blog and the limitations of its current Web presence reminds us that this type of learning is very much a work in progress and not well understood.
Monday, January 04, 2010
"There are no credentials that this worker receives from going on the Web to learn what a wiki is, or to view a map of a country she intends to visit, or perhaps to buy [Jay] Cross's book [on informal learning]-- yet each of these information searches entails learning" (p. 40).I continue to think that the most powerful transformation in learning is taking place in this invisible process of informal learning. Just as most of us have been learning a lot informally from television we are now learning a lot informally on the web. The unfortunate part of this is that just as most educational institutions have not actively participated in the creation of television material (other than through athletics!), our educational institutions are currently missing the opportunity to create great Web material.
The Cape Town Open Education Declaration challenges educators to actively participate in the creation and use of open educational resources, authors and publishers to release their resources openly, and higher education and other institutions to make open educational activities a priority.
These are the important challenges in the creation of informal learning.
1. the availability of tools and infrastructure for learning (the pipes);
2. The availability of free and open educational content and resources (the pages);
3. a movement toward a culture of open access to information, international collaboration, and global sharing (a participatory learning culture). (p. 52).
"The convergence of these three macro trends has put in motion opportunities for human learning and potential never before approached in recorded history" (p. 53).There is a lot of evidence that these trends are moving in the direction that Bonk suggests, but it is far less clear that most of the educational institutions are contributing towards the development of open educational content and a participatory learning culture. Bonk correctly cites some of the important developments (Connexions, MIT Open Courseware, and a few others), but these are still limited efforts.
In fact, these are relatively old (2-3 years ago) developments and there have not been significant other developments in terms of institutions following their lead or in innovative new versions of open educational resources. Perhaps these developments are smaller and less visible, but there have not been any major developments.
What are the real trends in these areas? Are major educational institutions joining the open education trend? To what degree are online learning platforms fostering a participatory learning culture?