Presentation Beyond Workplace Learning
Stephen Downes, April 5, 2011,
Swiss eLearning Conference #SeLC11, Zurich, Switzerland, online via IPMediaSuite
Short presentation in which I outline the elements of the classical approach to workplace learning that can be and are being challenged by new forms of enterprise organization and workplace learning. (p.s. I have to own up to what I think was a poor answer to the question after the talk - on reflection, in response to the question of how managers ensure learning results, instead of saying it;s impossible to manage and impossible to ascribe specific effect to specific causes, I should have talked about open work environments.)
Remember podcasting? The concept has faded a bit in the public consciousness (Gartner has listed it as 'expired before its time' in its latest hype cycle) but it's still supported in iTunes and (as they say) not dead yet. Basically, the idea was to automatically load MP3 files onto your iPod as part of your regular charge and sync. Longer battery life and live webcasting have combined to push podcasting to the margins. But the idea of loading media to your iPod or iPad for later use continues to have merit. This we see in this example a system described whereby exactly the same technology is used to load ePub Documents to your iPad. So if you're publishing ePub documents (which "could well be a set of class notes, a handout, a monograph, or any other instructional support document") this is an easy way to distribute them using RSS. See also Frank Lowney on Playable audio and video and Standard Definition Video in ePub Documents, as well as a look forward to ePub version 3 - good stuff.
Edited by Trebor Scholz and based on the Mobility Shift conference, this set of publications - presented in an almost magazine-style interface - takes a media-centric approach to digital learning. As Scholz says in his introduction, "the authors ask how both ready-at-hand proprietary platforms and open-source tools can be used to create situations in which all learners actively engage each other and the teacher to become more proficient, think in more complex ways, gain better judgment, become more principled and curious, and lead distinctive and productive lives." It's a set of publications grounded in the reality of Angry Birds, Facebook profiles and YouTube, but also incorporating cultural and social critques as part of the mix. Hence we have Mushon Zer-Aviv on teaching with blogs, Mark Lipton on Facebook as a functional tool and critical resource, and Kathleen Fitzpatrick with an analysis of the unlamented Google Wave as a pedagogical tool.
According to the press release, "eLearning Africa's newly designed news portal is now online. It features new social media links, improved site navigation and enhanced multimedia. The portal covers the most relevant news and information in the field of ICT for Development and Education in Africa." I've subscribed and will link to the best of the news from Africa in this newsletter.
The ten points are:
- Much of the material students are required to memorize is soon forgotten
- Just knowing a lot of facts doesn't mean you're smart
- Students are more likely to learn what they find interesting
- Students are less interested in whatever they're forced to do and more enthusiastic when they have some say
- Just because doing x raises standardized test scores doesn't mean x should be done
- Students are more likely to succeed in a place where they feel known and cared about
- We want children to develop in many ways, not just academically
- Just because a lesson (or book, or class, or test) is harder doesn't mean it's better
- Kids aren't just short adults
- Substance matters more than labels
I agree with this observation: "real computer revolution hasn't happened yet. We use very little of the computer's potential in our daily lives. Certainly, part of the problem there is the lack of enough good, usable software that taps into the real power of the computer (e.g., other than what-if games on Excel, what everyday-usable software has people building models and simulations?). Another way to look at the problem is that maybe we haven't taught people how to use the computer well." Me, I can code, make videos, edit audio, create animations, and more. If I need something, I make it. I get a lot of mileage out of my computer, and have created a career using it. But I had the advantage of learning some of the basic skills early in life. As larger segments of the population become computer-literate, as writing algorithms becomes as everyday as writing notes, the true impact of the computer will be realized.
One feature of new technology is the detailed coverage of events we have as they happen and the speed with which we can analyze and understand their impact. Following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan thousands of video and data sources made available massive amounts of information, and it took only 20 days for the staff at Nova to organize and present this 47 minute video detailing the nature of the disaster and identifying some key lessons learned. If you sit down to watch this, make sure you have the full hour available, as it is first class material.
I ran Google's page speed analyzer, which is now available for all websites, on downes.ca and got a '41' out of 100. So there's room for improvement. The big thing for me would be to enable keep-aline, set page expiration dates, and resize images. Who knew? Via WebMonkey.
Good news. "Starting next issue, College & Research Libraries will lift its six-month embargo on recently published online articles and become a fully open access journal." Now if they'd add an RSS feed so readers know exactly when new articles are added, things would be perfect.
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