The 2008 Boyer Lectures: A Golden Age of Freedom

The 2008 Boyer Lectures are being broadcast by ABC Radio National in Australia. Rupert Murdoch is the guest presenter of this year’s lectures. The theme of this year’s lectures is A Golden Age of Freedom. This is the press release about the lecture series. This is the home page for the series of lectures and all podcasts.

Two recent lectures,Lecture 2 (9 November) Who’s afraid of new technology (transcript here) and Lecture 3 (16 November) The future of newspapers: moving beyond dead trees (transcript here) seem very timely for this stage of our CCK08 discussions.

CCK08: Week 10 Wild Flower Garden

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I have been working in the garden this week. Part of the garden has wild flowers (mainly oxeye daisies, Lecanthemum vulgare) in it during the Summer and I noticed that one of the wild flowers was growing (strongly) away from the other flowers. I missed Howard Rheingold in the first Elluminate session and have not participated in the Ustream discussions so me and the wild flower have a lot in common this week. There is action going on somewhere but we are away from it!

This is my review of this week’s action in CCK08. (The parts I saw read and heard!)

I read Stephen’s 2004 paper on Reusable Media, Social Software and Openness in Education and his 2006 article on Sustainable Open Education Resources. I watched Stephen’s Seven Questions video (I hope it was recorded at 4 p.m.) and followed up the Daily link to Stephen’s presentation on Open Educational Resources and his Blip TV video on Openness in Education (Bradley wrote a detailed response to this presentation). I went back to read the Seeley Brown and Adler paper.

For some inexplicable reason (perhaps the subliminal qualities of too much Blip TV and the occassional mention of neurons) I went away and read about the Minority Game. (Perhaps it was the sustainability arguments and a recent post about economic behaviour that took me there.) Joe Wakeling and Per Bak (2002) explore:

… the effects of changing agent characteristics, demonstrating that crowding behavior takes place among agents of similar memory, and show how this allows unique `rogue’ agents with higher memory values to take advantage of a majority population.

This week’s Daily led me to:

Carmen‘s comprehensive discussion of the travel impulse and the excitement of discovery. News of Dave Cormier’s presentaton to an Emerging Monday’s seminar on MOOCS and Connectivism hosted by Graham Attwell. (Jorgen came to Graham Attwell’s post by a different route.) Wendy‘s discussion of teachers as researchers who “teach the research process, how to find and filter information”. I really enjoyed her subsequent post about a teacher in a connectivist framework and was delighted to read that:

I’m about to embark on a 6-week connectivism project with my Contemporary Issues class. They will build a personal learning environment based on a topic for which they have great interest. I will take on a number of new roles including that of modeler, network administrator, curator, concierge, community leader, technology steward, information filter, Sherpa, researcher, change agent, learning entrepreneur, and evaluator. Some of these roles will be foreign and uncomfortable. But, I’m open minded, confident, ready to experiment, and prepared to learn from my mistakes.

I read Ailsa‘a contemplation of appreciative and iterative change (inspired by Nancy White) and her discussion of agile development. (Dave Cormier wrote this week about communities and linked to Nancy too.) Rita wrote about groups, networks and collectives and shared news of the ECEL conference in Cyprus. Ariel has been visiting a virtual worlds in education conference and his notes are here. Ken posted this week on analogies and followed up with a second post.

Jenny had a busy week of posts: changing teachers; intervention in students’ learning; and community, networks, reciprocity and responsibility. In her most recent post, Jenny asks:

What makes one person take (this) responsibility more seriously than another? Is it in order to fulfil a personal need rather than to benefit the community?  And how do notions of responsibility to a network of learners fit with ‘connectivism’?

Elsewhere a number of course members have completed Paper 2, including Tom’s serialisation, Maru (and her delightful context paper), Grant, Jon, Jcrom, Steve, Jorgan and Shel

Frances‘s detailed discussion of connectivism as a learning network stopped me in my tracks. I have mentioned before that I must look carefully at ANT and her post is a very good reason why I must accelerate my reading. I had thought that connectivism is open to its own revision. Three thinkers from my network of dead people, Marx (withering away of the state), Weber (science open to on-going change) and Kelly (there are infinite alternative constructions of reality) gave me good reason to think this.

Just when I was recovering from Frances’ post up comes The Revolution will be Syndicated. Mike Bogle has made an enormous impact on me in the last ten weeks and his post exemplifies for me just what a connected person is and does. (Mike has a poll running at the moment about tools used to engage with CCK08.)

I looked at John Mak’s alphabet post and admired his writing productivity over the last few weeks (this week a response to Bradley‘s book review and this post on connectivism, for examples). I noticed Andreas‘s post about optional assignments and am finding myself more and more interested in his approach to learning (later in the week he posted about frustrated students and assignment 2). I look forward to Lisa’s posts and this week she discussed the ontological turn. I noticed her mention of John Holt. Bradley discussed a different kind of ontology later in the week.

The Daily linked me to Howard Rheingold’s TED talk (I noticed that Eyal Sivan had posted a comment there linking to this detailed post about “enlightened self interest”), to the review of Smart Mobs and a link to the online book the Virtual Community. Lori posted a link to the Social Media Classroom at the start of the Elluminate session.

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I did listen with great interest to the recording of Howard’s Elluminate session and noticed a number of comments on the chat board at the end that participants were going to re-listen. This first session takes place early in the morning In Australia so I have been a second-session-Elluminate-kind-of-person. I was interested to see who participated in the first session and noticed that there were 45 wildflowers in the list of participants (Howard, George, Stephen, Adrian, Alan, Anachorete, Bee, Bill, Bradley, Ctscho, DebbyK, Dendari, Derbaum, Dolors, Emcdef, Frank, Gabi, Grant, Iamarf, Jabiz, Jcrom, Jennymack, Joel, Jon K, Jorgen, Juliana, Lindaleea, Lisa, Lori, Lynn, Marc, Maru, Mary, Matthias, Mic, RCJones, RNolan, Roland, Romi, Sasa, Sharon, Silvia, Steve, Sylvia, Teresa, Todd, Wendy). It was great to hear Howard talk about his work and to hear the voices of other CCK08 participants. Listening in lapsed-time gave me the opportunity to pause and follow up some points in more detail. There seemed to be an early exchange about wiki formats and blogging going on on the chat board and Alan posted a link to this excellent Common Craft explanation of a wiki (there is a video too). (Subsequently I found this post on CogDogBlog.) Steve posted a link to his Connectivism pbwiki and to an SL Experiments wiki.

Other themes in the discussion:

  • Inducting students into Web 2.0 tools and establishing a disciplined approach to practice
  • Sustainability
  • Reflection
  • Critical thinking and creative thinking (Bee posted this link to Open Spaces For Dialogue and Enquiry)
  • Stage craft

I was delighted when Howard indicated some of the influences on his development (Postman and Weingartner, Freire, Dewey and Goffman). Bee (and others) have some tweets about this session.

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The Daily linked to a number of reflective pieces later in the week. Mrs Durff looked at learning, chunking and reflecting. (I noticed her Voki, I am wondering how to change mine.) This paper discussed Latin characteristics of education and training. Adrian brought another perspective to educare. Matthias looked at openness here. Lisa explored resistance, reassessment and retooling. (Later in the week she posted on Openness.)

Earlier this week “Linker Taylor” posted that “I have always been comfortable as the connector – someone who notices all sorts of odd bits of information, then finds opportunities to pass along the information in the most unlike situations.” This week has seen me trying to connect despite the appeal of early Summer In Australia and a wild flower garden. I should let Lani know that it is a real and virtual organic garden … and perhaps George will appreciate life in a rural society given his connectedness challenges this week.

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Postscript

I revisit my posts after first posting to include other posts that come my way from alerts. Today I lost my postscript! I had written about a post by Frances and her walled garden discussion of social software in schools. I liked her observation that:

Good teachers inspire their students to learn away from the classroom as well as in it – thinking is the first mobile technology – the question is how do institutions learn about what is appropriate support for learners and teachers using social software.

It has been a busy time in the backyard for Jenni too. Her post shares her interest in VoiceThread as an introduction tool for an on-line course. Linarmstrong has post about dyslexia and theories. Linarmstrong and Matthias have posted their short paper three. Eduardo‘s post on the lifecyscles of communities and networks was a timely reminder about egocentric and object centric networks discussed earlier in CCK08. In doing so it prompted me to read more of Michele Martin‘s work. WordPress Tag Surfer brought me Mark’s Wordle post, Ariel‘s discussion of Openness and Twitter, two posts by ulop (one on freedom and one on connectivism), and John Mak‘s post on individual development, networks and communities (and linked to his earlier post).

CCK08: Week 10 Utopia Amplified

This post started its journey with Lani’s post. I read it early morning on Wednesday in Mongarlowe, the birds were singing and there was a beautiful blue sky. It was the start of another great day in paradise found.

Lani’s post was very brief and shared a link to Clarence Fisher‘s site (Stephen had linked to Clarence in OLDaily to a different post about classrooms). If I had been reading an earlier post by Lani more carefully I would have noticed her acknowledgement of Clarence and her link to Mark Ahlness‘ blog too. Clarence and Mark are teachers.

This is what Clarence wrote in his post:

David Weinberger Skyped into my classroom today. This alone is amazing enough, but the story of how this took place is another showing of the power of the web.

The students in my class not that long ago read the kids version of Small Pieces Loosely Joined called What the Web is For. From this, we discussed and worked through several things, ending up in an activity where the students had to make a representation of what they think the web looks like. You may have seen the flickr pictures. I put this together into a blog post tagged, among other things, David Weinberger. Mr. Weinberger found this and was good enough to respond with a kind comment about the work we do in our classroom. A flurry of email ensued, topics were tossed around a date was set.

Today was that day.

Promptly at 1 PM today Mr. Weinberger called and we spent 30 minutes with one of the finest thinkers in the world discussing how literacy is changing and how the web has changed ideas of success, making things possible which only a short time ago were simply not. Another interesting topic that came up was the idea of freedom of speech and if it is right that “bad stuff” is allowed on the internet. Shy at first, eventiually the students in my class warmed up enough and asked a number of questions.

So I hope the kids in my class have something to say today when their parents ask: “So, what did you do at school today?”

When I wrote my Stacks post I did mention my utopian commitment to CCK08. (John commented on the post and my post here is in part a response to his comments). Clarence’s post exemplifies how wonderful the education process is in the care of passionate teachers. I was wondering how Clarence’s students’ families dealt with the excitement of news of Mr Weinberger’s call. I wondered too if education messages are best received in times of hope exemplified in Mr Weinberger’s post here.

CCK08 is a marvellous example of “thinking locally and connecting globally”. Lani introduces me to Clarence and Mark. I follow Clarence’s post and meet David Weinberger and can do so with my left brain and right brain! So at three degrees of separation in thirty minutes I am wondering why I have missed so much of David Weinberger’s writing.

This morning is a teachable moment for me and it was not timetabled. Stephen Downes has been my guide on my journey into educational technology and much, much more. CCK08 is now offering me many guides to develop my understanding of the possibilities of education. Clarence is today’s guide and David has taken over the lead given to me by Lani.

In other posts I have indicated my epistemological roots. I am a child of the Ivan Illich and Paulo Freire times. I was inexorably attracted to Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner‘s work. In the early 1970’s I was introduced to the sociology of education and found the readings in Knowledge and Control intuitively attractive. A decade later I found myself in Dartington (UK) and was involved in the emergence of a co-operative school made possible by the community building legacy of the Elmhirsts of Dartington descrived so vividly by Michael Young. I read about Black Mountain College in the Library at Dartington.

Whilst at Dartington I met David Gribble and was fascinated by his vision for education. David wrote this in his conclusion to Considering Children (1985):

We need to help children to understand their own individual importance so that they face the world with the friendly confidence that makes progress possible.

We need to help children to understand that it is a natural human instinct to want to care for others and that we suffer if we ignore this instinct.

We need to help children to understand what they themselves are capable of, so that they can use their talents to the full.

And we need to help children to understand that learning is a pleasure … we want to learn simply because we want to know.

Children who leave school understanding all these things will be wise – wise enough to understand also that their education is only the beginning. All through their lives they will persist in the search for truth.

Lani, Charles, Mark and Mr Weinberger reinforced my view that education is not a one day thing, or a someday thing, it is a right now, every day thing. I believe education has an innocence that enriches our very being.

Sands School in Devon (UK) is founded on these principles. But we find them everywhere …

(Shortly before I posted this I noted Linda‘s link to Clarence too!)