Blogging, Sharing, Sociabilty

I have been blogging with WordPress since 3 June 2008.

Since that time I have written 350 posts on topics linked to learning, teaching and performing.

Many of these topics are stimulated by links shared by Stephen Downes through OLDaily and were given impetus by a remarkable group of participants in CCK08.

A few days ago (10 March) Stephen posted about blogging and followed up the next day with a link to the self-organising social mind. I was mulling over both these posts when Kent Anderson posted about Kevin Kelly.

All three posts arrived at a time when I was completing an open tender on Wikiversity, making some plans for a visit by Nancy White, and reflecting on an observation by Graham Attwell about “the existence of multiple information and knowledge flows” through the ability of anyone to publish.

Stephen’s link to Luis Suarez’s post Making Business Sense of Social Media and Social Networking – Is Blogging Dead? and Luis’ link to Scott Monty’s Blogging is Dead exemplify the power of blogging to me. Kent Anderson’s post about Kevin Kelly and his link to Kevin’s presentation at the O’Reilly Tools of Change Conference provides an interesting context for the vibrant bloggingscape.

In his talk, Kevin points to six verbs that characterise how we interact with information, how we make and present information:

  • Screen
  • Interact
  • Share
  • Access
  • Flow
  • Generate

George Theiner’s review of John Bolander’s book The Self-Organizing Social Mind starts:

Sociability is one of the most fascinating traits of our species. As human beings, we create and participate in complex social structures with a flexibility of group membership which is unparalleled in the animal kingdom, and we are capable of entertaining a seemingly endless variety of social relationships. What if underneath our dappled social world lies a deeper kind of simplicity, which can be explained by the physics of symmetry and its breakings, akin to the processes which are at work in the formation of a snowflake or a spiral galaxy? In his insightful new book, John Bolender argues that such a view is indeed suggested by contemporary science rather than a figment of social romanticism.

I like the idea of sociability and simplicity. Blogging is a part of this relationship and I have seen it from the outset as a purely volitional activity on the part of the author and reader.

I post to share information and explore wayfinding. From early on I saw blogging as a way of developing a cloud presence that used WordPress as a vehicle for Kevin’s six verbs. I had not anticipated that anyone would read my posts.

I was delighted recently when my daughter Beth started blogging. I read her posts avidly. I have an immense amount of paternal pride and an overwhelming admiration for her desire to share information and experience. I think she has the essence of blogging that Stephen, Kevin, Luis and Scott point to.  I see Beth’s posts as another example of the resilience and relevance of blogging.

Vicarious Learning and Reciprocal Altruism

I follow 257 people on Twitter and am moving towards 500 tweets. Whenever I access Twitter I find a treasure trove of links and discussions. Twitter has accelerated for me the connectedness that Stephen Downes offers in his work. My access to Twitter, Stephen’s work and my aggregation of blog posts has transformed my reading, thinking and practice (CCK08 was my tipping point). Leigh Blackall‘s arrival as a work colleague has added to this momentum.

It has led me to think how vicarious learning (ambient awareness) can promote reciprocal altruism.

This post is a twenty-four hour snapshot of some of the sharing that came through my personal learning environment.

On Sunday I came across a link to Tom Davenport’s post about Forwarding is the New Networking. I checked in to Twitter a little later to find Typeboard‘s (1,011 tweets) link to Online Content Plagiarism at its Best.

Shortly after reading that article I came across Malinka‘s (1,863 tweets) tweet about tag clouds. This post reminded me very much of Rose Holley‘s observations about tag fog.

Kate Caruthers (26,180 tweets) tweeted about Social Media 2009 and Beyond. (I caught up with Steve Wheeler’s Networked Naughties too.) Shortly after following up Kate’s lead I found some tweets from Alec Courosa (32,697 tweets) about his students including Kelsi McGillivray and Bradie Mann. They demonstrate wonderful social commitments to reflection and sharing. (In the process I found their shared a Prezi.) I think Alec’s students exemplify some of the characteristics discussed by John Sener in his review (via Harold Jarche 6,792 tweets) of Disrupting Class:

individualizing instruction, situational research— as a means for building alternative systems which truly are student-centered and utilize online learning technologies, but also individualize student inputs and outcomes while enhancing the teacher’s role in the process, while utilizing rigorous and flexible assessment methods.

I noticed a link to the European Graduate School in another tweet and read carefully the disclaimer at the bottom of the front page that included:

This website uses Google Analytics, a web analytics service provided by Google, Inc. Google Analytics uses cookies, which are text files placed on your computer, to help the website analyze how users use the site. The information generated by the cookie about the use of the website, including IP addresses, will be transmitted to and stored by Google on servers in the United States. Google will use this information for the purpose of evaluating the use of the website, compiling reports on website activity for website operators and providing other services relating to website activity and internet usage. Google may also transfer this information to third parties where required to do so by law, or where such third parties process the information on the behalf of Google. Google will not associate IP addresses with any other data held by Google. The use of cookies can be refused by selecting the appropriate settings in the web browser, however please note that if you do this you may not be able to use the full functionality of this website. By using this website, you consent to the processing of data about you by Google in the manner and for the purposes set out above.

Mark Drapeau (via Iggy Pintado 8956 tweets) provides some interesting insights about How to Win Friends and Twinfluence People. By coincidence I found a Graham Attwell (1.960 tweets) tweet drawing attention to Howard Rheingold’s (May 2009 post) Twitter Literacy. I have been following Howard Rheingold’s output since his guest appearance on CCK08. I liked his observations that:

  • I think successful use of Twitter means knowing how to tune the network of people you follow, and how to feed the network of people who follow you.
  • You have to tune who you follow. I mix friends who I know IRL (“in real life”) and whose whereabouts and doings interest me, people who are knowledgeable about a field that interests me, people who regularly produce URLs that prove useful, extraordinary educators, the few who are wise or funny.
  • When it comes to feeding my network, that comes down to putting out the right mixture of personal tweets (while I don’t really talk about what I had for lunch, the cycles of my garden, the plums falling from my tree, my obsession with compost and shoepainting do feature in my tweetstream), informational tidbits (when I find really great URLs, that’s when Twitter is truly a “microblog” for me to share my find), self promotion (when I post a new video to my vlog share the URL – but I do NOT automatically post everything I blog on smartmobs.com), socializing, and answering questions.

Perhaps reciprocal altruism can transform the reliance on a small number of people to transform thinking and behaviour. George Siemens (4,016 tweets) links to this Onion post about ‘the four or five guys who pretty much carry the whole Renaissance’.

Just as I was concluding this post I received Stephen Downes’ OLDaily that contained an apology:

December 20, 2009

Better Late Than…
———————————————————————————–
Well – there’s a first. Though I wrote some posts on Friday, I actually forgot to publish the newsletter and send the emails. First time ever. So, here it is, a couple days late, but intact. Enjoy.

Stephen’s news is an important marker in my day and usually initiates the sharing that Tom Davenport extols. His news arriving was a great end to a day of thinking about learning and sharing. I am off to read Seth Simonds’ post Bye with a Warmly Huggs.

Photo Credit

Nature and Technology

Hidden Treasure Explored

Attention and Learning

This post about attention and learning started with some ideas stimulated by Noah Charney‘s novel The Art Thief (2007).

I liked his suggestion that “logic and observation are universal tools … that no one realises they have.” In the novel he points out that students in the Yale University Medical School are required to visit the Yale Centre for British Art. This post from earlier this year provides the non-fiction account of this relationship.(This is a post from 2006. See too this article (2001) on the use of fine art to enhance visual diagnostic skills and this link to data from the study.)

All first-year students at the School of Medicine are required to take the innovative class, which was developed by Yale medical school faculty member Dr. Irwin Braverman and Linda Friedlaender, curator of education at the Yale Center for British Art, which houses the world’s largest collection of British art outside the United Kingdom.

Braverman and other experts believe that, in an age when physicians rely heavily on high-tech imaging and tests, the art of detailed, careful observation is getting short shrift. But detecting small details can make all the difference in coming up with accurate diagnoses, believes the Yale faculty member.

Braverman began trying to find a way to increase observational skills of medical school students at around the same time that Friedlaender became frustrated with the continued misdiagnosis of a close friend. They happened to meet at a gathering and began laying the groundwork for the class, which makes the most of the museum’s collection by asking medical students to “diagnose” individuals portrayed in its artworks.

Their work brought to mind Max Lucado‘s observation that “to lead the orchestra, you have to turn your back on the crowd”. The combination of Noah Charney’s fiction and the real world work going on at Yale prompted me to think about attention and learning.

I am working through some of my ideas about feedforward and bandwidth.  This week a variety of sources amplified my interest. It started with a misplaced Google enquiry that led me to this discussion of the use of video in a hospital setting (and these citations).

I found John Bordeaux‘s post about personalised learning. John points out that:

  • You are designed to work with incomplete information.
  • You resolve ambiguous input data based on how you believe the world works.

He concludes that “we can provide a system that adapts to the individual minds in our care at every stage.  The science leaves us no option here – ‘personalized learning,’ by whatever name, is a central design principle for a transformed education system.” Some of these issues were raised by Graham Attwell in his post about virtual learning environments and in this post about digital identities.

Just after reading John’s blog post I came across the BrainBoard visualisation from Second Life shared by Jeff Lowe on Flickr.

This led me to think about immersive learning and the possibilities created by virtual spaces. Erica and Sam Driver explore some of these ideas in their post about what makes a virtual environment immersive. They have a detailed table in that post that summarises the immersiveness continuum in which they characterise low and high immersiveness in a variety of factors including graphics, avatars, 3D environment, ability to control viewpoint, physics, size of display, haptics, voice, collaboration and interactivity.

This post about 3D video added to my interest in the attention and learning possibilities available in 3D environments.

It was a short journey from immersive spaces to a link I received about an interactive video platform.

I think this approach has enormous potential and reminded me of the Us Mob web site designed by Katalyst and their more recent Burn site. I think there are some wonderful opportunities available for attention and learning in these approaches and in the function of such innovations as Mag+ (Vimeo link).

And then I found IdeaPaint!

Whilst moving across web posts, I found a post about presentation that discussed the role of storytelling. This video in the post encouraged me to think about how young you can be to understand and share a story. This is the message from the original film:

“One game.  If we played ‘em ten times, they might win nine.  But not this game…not tonight.  Tonight, we skate with them.  Tonight, we stay with them, and we shut them down because we can!  Tonight, WE are the greatest hockey team in the world.  You were born to be hockey players – every one of you.  You were meant to be here tonight.  This is your time.  Their time is done.  It’s over.  This is your time.  Now go out there and take it.”

This is a four year old’s take on the message:

This is the link to Kurt Russell’s version.

The YouTube session set me up for an exploration of story telling and the use of narrative. By coincidence one of the Bush Telegraph programs on Radio National discussed Graham Seal‘s new book Great Australian Stories-legends, yarns and tall tales. This set me of thinking about the role storying plays in attention and learning and how many learning environments are a rich source for stories.

From stories I moved on to a post about pictures by John Medina. John points out the impact pictures have on memory (pictorial superiority effect) and he has some great points to make about text:

The inefficiency of text has received particular attention. One of the reasons that text is less capable than pictures is that the brain sees words as lots of tiny pictures. Data clearly show that a word is unreadable unless the brain can separately identify simple features in the letters. Instead of words, we see complex little art-museum masterpieces, with hundreds of features embedded in hundreds of letters. Like an art junkie, we linger at each feature, rigorously and independently verifying it before moving to the next. The finding has broad implications for reading efficiency. Reading creates a bottleneck. My text chokes you, not because my text is not enough like pictures but because my text is too much like pictures. To our cortex, unnervingly, there is no such thing as words.

John’s discussion of pictures is one of his twelve brain rules. His post led me to a discussion of mind over matter in the classroom and the role that visualisation plays in learning. This led me to Stephen Kosslyn‘s work and his Group Brain project with Richard Hackman.  (I liked this paper about using visual images to improve comprehension too.)

Reading about the Group Brain project took me back to Carl Wieman‘s work as an educator. I listened to a Radio National program about his thoughts on teaching methodology and peer instruction. This discussion led me to Eric Mazur‘s work:

It’s the middle of a class period and two hundred students aren’t listening to the instructor. Instead, they’re engaged in over fifty simultaneous conversations with their neighbors. This probably sounds like a disaster to many teachers. But it’s actually a rousing success: the students are discussing a question which challenges them to think about the material and justify their reasoning to their classmates.

What this wayfinding approach led me to this week was an incredibly rich set of resources around attention and learning. As the week came to a close mention of journalism as effective surprise in an ABC Radio interview with Mark Scott encouraged me to think even more about the learning opportunities skilled teachers and coaches construct. J S Bruner points out that humans tend to respond with “effective surprise” to concepts and artifacts that take familiar things and rearrange them in new ways.  Some observers discuss a chaordic model of change (where chaos and order overlap) and suggest that the most fertile territory for innovation is in the boundary zone, where unlike things co-mingle.

I liked Ursula Lucas‘s (2006) discussion of being pulled up short in this context. She notes in a discussion of teaching that “moments of surprise have two aspects. Firstly, they represent moments when the lecturer is “pulled up short” and recognises the unexpected impact of a learning activity and is propelled into reflection. Secondly, they represent moments when students are “pulled up short” and are propelled into questioning taken-for-granted assumptions about themselves and the subject.”

By the end of the week of exploring attention and learning I realised I still had to look at:

A J Cropley’s ideas about creativity and cognition.

David Hargreaves’ thoughts about conversive trauma.

Learning without limits

Errorless learning

The ABC of XYZ: understanding the global generations

Nettels

The aim of this blog post is to share these ideas about attention and learning and to support explorations in personalised teaching, coaching and learning. Fortunately I did not lose a lot of sleep over this post. Researching attention and learning is a wonderful way to ensure high quality of sleep. But just when it is safe to go to bed you might want to think about the attention and learning possibilities of sleep, dreams and nightmares. Richard Stickgold‘s work and Antti Revonsuo‘s research open up fascinating opportunities to explore the learning possibilities of dreams and nightmares.

Photo Credits

Primer in the Classroom

Irwin Braverman and Linda Friedlaender

Aerial move

Open Air Schooling

Horns of a dilemma