by Stephen Downes
Nov 05, 2015
Why Organizations Don't Learn
Internet Time Blog,
Jay Cross looks at an article entitled Why Organizations Don’t Learn in the November Harvard Business Review and suggests that "the resemblance of their suggestions and the content of Real Learning is uncanny." The difference, though, is that "everything recommended by HBR deals with the supply side. Real Learning looks at the world through the demand side. Real Learning appeals to people with an intrinsic motivation to learn — in order to meet their personal goals. Intrinsic motivation outguns extrinsic motivation because ultimately, individuals learn what they want to learn." And maybe that's what HBR does - taking good concepts and reforming them to become a part of top-down organizational strategy.
I haven't looked at the Browser Wars for a long time now because there really hasn't been any point, but today there's as much diversity in browser choices as there has ever been, so the topic is worth a visit. My browser of choice continues to be Firefox, and it was actually a bit surprising to me that it won this comparison. It doesn't perform well on Windows 10 (no surprise there) and the browser continues to perform poorly when actual downloads are in progress (well, OK, it freezes). But it still has more zip than Chrome and Opera. Internet Explorer is a lost cause, but Microsoft's new Edge browser is fast and efficient - too bad it wastes all that power on advertising, which can't be turned off (I use it for Netflix and MLB on slow connections, though, because Firefox can't handle them on Windows 10). Something new to me is the Maxthon cloud browser, which I ran for the first time today. It blocks all ads and comes with a built-in feed reader, a 'passport' (which looks like it will support transactions), and a lovely left-side toolbar. I might be using it soon! Get it here.
The big decision: Which university is for you?
The Globe and Mail ranking universities is a bit like Donald Trump ranking cars: they've been in one once, but they don't really know how they work nor how well they perform on a day-to-day basis. But oh my, they have opinions. And so with this survey of Canadian universities. It's not really a survey, of course. It's the Globe trotting out its particular (and out-of-step) political perspective and judging universities on that basis. Consider the criterion called 'citizenship' in the article (and 'positive change' in the tables): "considering their social entrepreneurship and global citizenship strategies." What do they mean by this? Are they fostering little Bill Gates clones? 'Research' is "measured by research funds awarded by the three major national research funding councils," but without noting that these Councils have all shifted to a business-partnership mode, so the criterion really measures ties with business. Universities are rewarded for spending on libraries, when they would really be conserving cost with open access books and journals and educational resources. And isn't it weird that the article lists the three English universities in New Brunswick but not the French one?
Rosedale: I was wrong with Second Life
Virtual reality continues to have believers, and at some point I expect it to become much more significant. This post features a summary of a talk by Philip Rosedale, who founded Second Life. In his talk Rosedale explains that Rosedale, was just too difficult (it could take as much as 40 hours to learn to do everything with only a keyboard and a mouse) and the environment itself was directionless; it didn't feature any game-like elements. Me, I didn't like Second Life's business model, and really disliked having to take someone else's name as my identity. But his High Fidelity open-source virtual reality platform may fix all that, and he is expecting bigger things. This article forecasts a $120 billion market for augmented reality, and $30 billion for virtual reality, by 2020. More. That's a lot of money, but expect a lot of it to be taken by services like Oculus Rift, Microsoft's Hololens, and even Minecraft.
The argument for slowing down…
I've never been a fan of the slow food movement. Not because I like fast food - I have never been a fan - but because lingering over food has always struck me as self-centered and inefficient. Also, I have a microwave. So my feelings about the slow learning movement have been equally ambivalent. In two of Gráinne Conole's three points on slow learning, the emphasis is on quality (the third is on inclusiveness). Well, who would oppose these? What I don't see is the connection between being slow and promoting quality and inclusiveness. Yes, learning takes time, and no, we shouldn't pretend that a quick skim over a text or a one-hour lecture replaces learning. But when you're serving it like it was one of those six course meals in a fancy restaurant, you are indulging in unnecessary luxury. This is fine if it's your thing and at your own expense, but shouldn't be recommended for the rest of us. Image: Wynton's World.
The Top Six Things Organizations Must Do to Enable Emergent Learning
ID and Other Reflections,
I've cited Sahana Chattopadhyay with approval frequently in the past, but this article needs correction. It represents a corruption of the term 'emergent learning' and is a step backward toward more traditional (and dysfunctional) forms of learning. Perhaps this is because she's been reading the HBR article, We Need Both Networks and Communities. I don't know. But she says, "Emergent Learning is a condition and an outcome of organizational culture, strategy and purpose." No it is not; if anything, it is the absence of these factors. The six conditions for emergent learning are not terrible on their own, but they are confused and muddled taken together. Sure, we could "Give up hierarchical, command and control mindset." But then how do we implement the three top-down directives that follow? This is a model for reverting an organization into tribes, setting up unit versus unit competition. That's not a progressive model, it's a regressive one.
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