Friday, April 08, 2011

Gipps TAFE

Last night I had a brief discussion with Brad Beach from Gipss TAFE in Melbourne, Victoria Australia via Skype.

Brad has indicated that he would be very much interested in hosting an un-conference style discussion at a venue of his employ. I've decided to record this so that Brad can see the people who he is connecting with and to bring other people on board.

I've let Brad know that he will be meeting with Teemu Leinonen and perhaps Katina Michael.

Teemu's itinerary is as follows:

13 July - 18 July in Hobart
Arrival: 08:35 (13 July)

18 July - 21 July in Melbourne
Arrival: 10:20 (18 July)
Departure: 15:30 (21 July)

I'll let Leigh know that we will have a chance to explore discussions further with Brad who has championed a great deal across the VET sector and beyond over the last decade. I'm looking forward to meeting and spending some time with Brad.

The photo below is Leigh and I speaking with Brad last week about networked learning whilst amidst a TalkingVTE session.

What we are now seeking is a venue at the University of Victoria or similar where we can connect with others as part of the two day event - 19th & 20th July. As discussed with Brad this will be a self funding travel / accommodation trip for those attending.

Brad has indicated he can manage catering for everyone on that day we visit him at Gipps.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Take No Prisoners

It's 7:45pm and I should be tweaking HTML on my Wife's website in preparedness for tomorrows inaugural coming out of her childrens clothing brand which to date has been a knock-out of a learning process.

So.....I get to my inbox and there is an email from Teemu Lienonen ( Finland) saying he's visiting Australia in July 2011. Well, this blogpost is the first of a few as I prepare myself to meet with him in Melbourne.

To meet with him and discuss what he is observing, seeing, thinking and doing in the northern hemisphere. Last time I met him in person we spoke of getting out for a late night drinking session complete with a Rammstein overture. Not to mention Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Slayer, W.A.S.P and a host of others too long ago to muster up through the crinkly concoids.

Mindful that we have a South Australia meeting in August for the TALO Swapmeet it's important that we also muster up the energy to celebrate the 5th Annual FLNW event. I'm calling it in with little time left and no budget.

I'm declaring an interest in meeting in Melbourne on the 18th and 19th July 2001 with Teemu and whomever wishes to join us in an "unconferenced" circular conversation with the principle focus or premise being that of discussing what it means now to living / working / being in a networked world and what it now means on learning/teaching/administrating.

No discussions on funding.

Just get to Melbourne and who knows....before we arrive I might just have some surprises to report upon in this very blog :)

ps. given that Teemu will have travelled this far I think it only fair he has a welcoming party and none better than his own networked family.

pss. whats with the "no prisoners" bit.......well, here's a little introductory thinking piece as we prepare for the inter-webians.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Touch Down | Take Off

[ image : leighblackall ]

As the FLNW3 crew touchdown back in NZ, Australia, America and so on there are another bunch of TALOians about to take off.

Likewise the whole concept will be on the discussion agenda at MobilizeThis2009.

So much for preserving the planet one might say. Indeed it's foremost in my mind so thats I suppose why I'm making best use of minimal web connections to bring the stories around full loop and make something from it all.

I'm heading through to the GNI Symposium with John and at this late hour and when I should be in bed I'm thinking to myself that it would be great to get some reflections conversation happening with Leigh & Sunshine in Dunedin as well as some connected online convresation going with others who werent able ( nor privileged enough ) to travel the distance to the big great land of the long white chemtrails.

This beautiful rare 2007 Tony Moody Shiraz I'm drinking is helping ease the guilt somewhat though :)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Round 3

[image : leighblackall ]

Stephan and I spoke tonight somewhat briefly of the current FLNW3 consortium.....appreciatively, reflectively.....with a considered and mindful series of recollections of times had and shared from similar such events in the past.

I've followed the Flickr feed, watched the wiki grow, listen to mutterings in Twitter and been sent the odd snippets via email and up to now havent felt compelled to say much until tonight.

It's good to see Leigh, Sunshine, Nancy, Micahel, Derek etc. enjoying each others company and really great to see some visuals of other parts of the world I'm yet to visit. It's also a powerful set of concepts and ideas being thrashed about in the context of the conversations that are bound to be shared as a result of the trip.

So despite my musings in the past as to whether electronica had a soul it seems that the myth of the perpetual white holiday is exactly that. We are glad to see things have deepened beyond travel notes and even better to "feel" that things are connected.

".......Connection, even love, sustains over distance when we make the choice and
intent to do so. "

Nancy White
Seattle 2009

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Connectives and Collectives: Learning Alone, Together

Summary of George Siemens's opening keynote at the D2L Fusion conference in Memphis. It represents, in my view, a substantial development in his thought.

box - Dabbawala - one who carries the box. This is a network of people who collect and distribute in excess of 200,000 meals a day in Mumbai.

encyclopedia - Wikipedia.

news site - Ohmynews.

marketplace - Seekers, solvers and a marketplace.

MIT Center for Collectove Intelligence: how can people be connected in order to work collectively?

Don't fight the internet. Don't fight human nature.

In most colective and collaborative activities, human nature is overlooked. For example, 'wearesmarter' tried to get people to collaborate to write a textbook. But people don't want to be submerged in a project like that.

The basis os any collective activity is the self.

- the brain is physical and confined; but the mind is flexible, the mind is external (you rely on external thoughts, external reminders). The mind is social.

- The individual mind *must* communicate - to connect, to form relations.

- our ability to speak is in essence a way to externalize the self. Language is a tool to demystify myth - we make it clear and understand.

- at its core, language is a social function (Wittgenstein's box of beetles).

- symbols - 'carriers of previous patterns of reasoning' - reflective of how we thought at one time. Symbols, then, are things we use to externalize ourselves.

Technology as language?

Our concets, then, are help at least partly externally. These are expressed socially, and as socially, are socially shaped. [Image of 'Formula of Concepts'] Example of how we understand the word 'right' in a context. As the context changed the collectively help viewpoint of language, our understanding changed.

Roy Pea: Intelligences are distributed across minds - but also across technologies. Rubber hands (we substitute touch sensation to the rubber hand we see) and bananas (when a monkey eats a banana, or watches another monkey eating a banana, the same area of neurons (mirror neurons) are firing).

Polysensory data: substituting video information with stimulations on teh tongue - we csn replace 'sight' with sensaion. Hence the phenomenon of 'blindsight'. (Paul Bach-y-Rita)

(SD: numerous examples showing the same sort of thing)

We can extend ourselves with tools, with technology, with language, with signals. The mind is enormously robust, enormously plastic.

BUT: our intgration and extension of self involves a preservation of self. (*key point*)

Our notion of self is not just physical, but still also the way we extend ourselves. It isn't created through socialization, but it is shaped, and manifests itself socially.

Connectives maintain an autonomy of self. A mosaic. It's the difference between creating a blog and creating a wiki.

Collectives, hoever, involve a subsumption of self. There is a coercion of a sort. These all involve a complexity of activity that requires the inclusion of many people. Creating an LMS, for example. The identity of many people has been subsumed. In many cases, that's fine, but we need to look at where it's not. Because, after all, innovation is deviation.

We used to assign names to inventions. Bt with contemporary corporatization, we have removed the name from the invention. The iPod should be the 'wePod'. In 75 years, we have gone from the individua to the company to the network as th innovator.

But - this raises issues of freedom and control. At the heart of collaboration and maships and the rest, you are playing with such issues.

Networks can result in complex tasks. Underlying all this is the idea of the network. And the network is based on the idea of the individual.

Look at the continuum of strength by connection: from individual (atoms) to groups (or what Geprge is calling collectives here). Individuals create new ideas, novelty, are diverse. Groups require some sort of normalization, some sort of subsumption of identity.

We need the diversity of opinion. Scott Page: diverse people working together and capitalizing on their indviduality outperform groups of like-minded people.

We say we like diversity, but diversity is a pain. It's the person who says "Wait a miunite, what about...?" who is the pain.

Pedagogical implications:

Three areas of choice:
- degree of agent autonomy
- degree of complexity
- degree of task specialization

When we design learning (and other systems) we have to decide which element to stress. Flying a plane, for example - should we grant the pilot complete autonomy?

These are the three key elements we need to look at when we consider what degree of individual freedom we want. (SD - this is a great point)

Robert Calliou - we need to solve the problem of combining our thinking as individuals to solve the enormous problems - global warming, food shortages, etc...

The impact, thn, starts to be seen in the design o technology. Neil Postman - techn ology has a 'give and take' element. Technology gives, but does it take? Plato: does writing impair our faculty of memory?

The technology we use is embedded with social and political artifacts. But does this hinder technology, or help? It creates a new medium for previously unconnected others to communicate. (haythornewaite)

Downes: to know' something is to be organized in a certain way, to learn is to acquire these particuar organizations.

So - is this learning?
- Core content? Our typical model.
- Core content that is co-created with external experts? That's better.
- Let's also bring in peripheral learners - list members, discussion group members, etc. Creates more diversity of input - we will likely have better quality content.
- Let's distribute the idea of 'faculty' among these diverse groups. Open , external experts, the rest. A very rich, very diverse learning experience.

We have a model where we say that:
- we recognize each learner has to have a unique stance, a unique identity
- we recognize that each learner needs to be connected to others

Vannevar Bush: notion of associative trails of content. They experience content not just how we as experts present it, but from numerous sources, where they jump from one source to another to another - they become critical thinkers.

And we want this, bcausde it isn't the content that makes an education, but rather, th ability to continue to learn more.

Freedom of fragmntation: we used to have our wor presented to us. A newspaper. A book. Today, we have a very fragmented world, where we get our information from many sources. That kind of fragmentation gives us new freedoms and opportunities.

For example: when learning from a tecaher, I wuld typically listen, read sources recommended by, be tested according to, the ideas of the individual who has created the course. A very consolidated whole. But today we have fragmented sources. That allows us to repurpose the ideas.

There is:
- a freedom to fragmentation - to get fragments
- a freedom of fragmentation - to be a fragment - to fragment our own thought in numerous places, sources

(SD: this needs to be clarified)

It's the end of the grand narrative, and the beginning of the personal narative. We create narratives not just persoanly, but in particular contexts.

The downside of fragmentation: overload. Too many sources, too many ideas. Too fragmented, too distributed. So the challenge is now in how to pull things together. Some interesting technologies:

- Twitter - and simple social tools. Gossip and trivial talks is typically viewed as a distraction, but (see Zufecki (Dunbar) 2008 - these are in essence the human version of social grooming in primates.

So, the challenge is: how do we preserve the unique values of connectives and collectives. Eg. how do we retain our ability to focus when, say, reading a book? (I have a rule - read one journal article before reading email).

We need to:
- design for varying levels of connectedness
- value the collective effort (the contribution to the whole) - but - what is the role of the individual in that process? What is the role of the agent?

The need for human sociability outstrips the design of our courses, the design of our institutions. It outstrips the flow of information that goes top to bottom. We need to take into account how the mind can integrate all kionds of sources, with great fluidity. Technology plays a similar role to that of language.

We can really improve the learning of our students if we use D2L effectively. If we encourage them to learn socially, they learn much more than they could from me as a faculty member.

We are now at a point where we ned to say, we now understand enough about the social nature of learning (Vytgotsky, Papert, Seely Brown, Wenger), and we also understand the idea of using technology to connect. We have that unique broth, and we just need to season it. Our institutions are barriers, the design of courses is a barrier.

a box - social and procedural nature of interaction
an encyclopedia - a storehouse
a news site - a flow
a marketplace - a forum of exchange

We need to recognize that 'collective intlligence' is not neutral in and of itself. All of them exist as a network in nature, as a node and a connection. But these all vary in strength and connectedness.

The nature of the connectedness we design into our courses is essentially a power relationship. It is a way of defining who will have what identity, and how. It's why you can't just slap down a wiki and say 'contribute'.

Paypal & Other Breaking News

Well........I have word that the last of the donated money that was raised as part of the FLNW2 trip to Thailand has been received by John Eyles and is ready for distribution to worthy people he deems will benefit from TALO generosity.

Thanks Michael for finalising that part of the equation and now the accounting for what money went where is complete.

I've also received a Flickr image message from Trish Everett who says she's not coming home ( yet ) as she's wrapped up in what she's found.

Apart from that these hard to author ( generally singular author ) blogs seem to have had their time.

I've reverted to wikis. I've also reverted to an open theme list, a selected range of contacts by invitation to find ways to build better & bigger things using ICT's.


Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Twitters

[ image : vance ]
This image for me sums up the scope of FLNW as it struggles to cross boundaries with TALO in tow.
Till next FLNW......over and out.

Staying Foolish

This came via Leo Laoshi whilst I was out on the road in Melbourne.

This is the text of the Commencement address by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, delivered on June 12, 2005.

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. Truth be told, I never graduated from college. This is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?"

They said: "Of course." My biological mother found out later that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

This was the start in my life.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on.

Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it's likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky D I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation - the Macintosh - a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me D I still loved what I did.

The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I retuned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.

And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking.

Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it.

Don't settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything D all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die.

It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.

This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope its the closest I get for a few more decades.

Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin a new, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry.

Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Lunchtime Reflections

[ image : mobology ]

Bee and Alex reflect on 'people' - download the MP3 : 1.9 mbs.

Motivations : Donations

Folk's.... I urge you to read over Beth Kanter's Social Fundraising: Leveraging Offline and Online Connections and Motivations post which beautifully illustrates the need to mediate 'help' in a philanthropic context.

Give it some thought too as you determine how much you can give to effect change and not just for changes sake.

Edtech with Doug and Graham

[ image : mikecogh ]

Graham Wegner advises me that for your listening pleasure the EdTechTalks podcast archive from the FLNW08 inclusion is now ready for your download.

Educators educating educators.

Now we just need to get the recording for two brilliant people above.......*hint:@jomcleay:)