Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ The Uber-Tool

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Nov 11, 2010

Notes from today's discussion in PLENK2010

- problem of multiple tools
    - individually they're very simple,
    - but together they are daunting

- similarity of function
    - aggregating functionality
    - similar interface

- eg Athabasca Landing

- that end-to-end functionality
     - workflow

- role of Education?
     - it seems that education is no longer innovating
     - now it seems private companies set trends, ed follows

Handbook of emerging technologies
   - need a tool that helps me synthesize
   - helps me put it all together

Building tools?
   - vs building skills and capacities
   - Mendalay?
   - because I do different things with different tools, I need a level of specialization

The Theory of Everything
   - physicist/surfer
   - might be different for everyone
   - enables me to be online/offline, in my head in my screen

The foundational elements of a discipline
   - that may be achievable - eg., critical literacies
   - but these would be reflected differently in different tools
   - eg., audio - will be different in local radio, satellite radio
   - but the core element remains the same - 'listening'

Can we keep the thing that changes hidden so that we focus on the core?
   - personal autonomy
   - distributed knowledge
   - social learning

It's the instantiation that confuses us, not the core idea
   - eg., twitter

How do we get at the core?
   - 21st century literacies?
   - pattern recognition?
   - two aspects: technical, and human - tech looks for connections, humans look for ideas
   - analysis versus discussion

Pattern recognition
   - beginning of theory generation

Pulling patterns together in this course - eg., posts, tweets
   - what a computer can do better - patterns of activity
   - a content analysis wouldn't get at how I do OLDaily
   - more at play than just simply running an algorithm

Human - assigns meaning to pattern - semantic
Machine - assigns structure to pattern - syntax

Tracking change - tracking trends - distinction between form and meaning
In Ed Tech that distinction is sometimes misplaced
   - eg you expect a person to do what a computer could do better - eg. lecture

This concept of sense-making, wayfinding, meaning
   - these patterns are emerging - what does that mean socially, economically, politically
   - eg. a computer can generate income data
   - but the person sees the decline in middle class as serious.

Assigning meaning to perceptions
   - is this something we do deliberately, or organically?
   - Eg., I see a person, I am drawing conclusions, I'm assigning something to that
   - When I assign attributes to an individual I am assigning meaning to it
   - two people encountering the same person will assign different meanings to it

Maria's presentation (Wednesday)
   - distinction between expert and novice is in assigning patterns
   - the purpose of thinking is to stop thinking - eg., driving - to drive automatically
   - but - the more we have to work, the more we will learn it

Reference - Sources of Power, by Klein
   - Cambridge Handbook of Expert and Expertise
   - we think in patterns if we're experts, we think linear if we're novice

Our capacity to recognize patterns
   - our eyes are moving all over, literally craving patterns
   - if there is a pattern to pursue, the mind will latch on
   - not just the eye, this is what we do

Is our uber-tool like the eye? Something that creates a certain level of expertise for us, allowing us to achieve some sort of higher expertise?

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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