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A critical insight into technology

In many occasions, technology and innovative practices in teaching and learning seems to come together. Obviously, one cannot generalize and reduce all initiatives to such a simplistic approach. However, despite all the enthusiasm and expectations on technology and new media – at the end we are talking about tools – it’s important to stop and consider what’s the final goal.

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RIP: A remix Manifesto

An open source documentary directed by the web activist and filmmaker, Brett Gaylor. The film focus on the work of a mashup musician, Girl talk, to analize copyright law and how it is affecting creativity as well as knowledge building. Is really actual interpretation of copyright a measure to encourage creativity? Who are the ones who have more interest in defending this production model? Can ideas be copyrighted?

Web 2.0 projects. Practices for cultural institutions

Somehow it managed to take quite some time to write this post. However if, after so long, I’m still interested in writing about the activities organized by the Center of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona Lab (CCCB Lab) and Citilab, concretely its project named Expolab, about cultural institutions and 2.0 practices, it’s a sign I’ve found many interesting ideas and reflections in them.

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Horizon Report.Ib 2010. Some ideas after the meeting in Puebla

Since March until mid-April, the Advisory Board (AB) of the Horizon Report: iberoamerican edition has been working collaboratively, first through a wiki and later in a face-to-face meeting in Puebla, México, to select and identify those technologies, challenges and trends with a greater potential throughout next 5 years in iberoamerican Higher Education.

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Mobile Learning Technologies for a Place-Based Pedagogy

The appearance of new mobile, portable, wireless and always connected devices seems to radically transform the way we communicate, work and learn. These new products are labeled under the expression “ubiquitous computing” and they are also considered as the result of an era in which mobility plays an increasingly significant role in the computational experience.

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Invisible Learning

The idea that the school isn’t the only place where we learn isn’t new. In fact, in many of seminars I’ve attended lately, one of key ideas was the need of rethinking school and the type of learning that students are supposed to achieve there.

Open Social Learning Bits I

Finding the right title for noting down some of the ideas arisen during any seminar is difficult. Finding an unique title for summarizing some of the key aspects of George Siemens’ and Alejandro Piscitelli’s presentations during the VI International Seminar of the UNESCO Chair in e-Learning about Open Social Learning seems me impossible, specially when my intention is to collect some personal ideas and relations their speaches have suggested me rather than writting a proper report about the event. In short, this is the reason why I’ve decided to name the posts about the seminar under the label “Open Social Learning Bits”…

Mark Bullen – Digital learners: Rethoric or Reality?

Digital learnersThe title of this speech it’s a clear allusion to Prensky’s definition of digital natives and digital inmigrants. Obviously Prensky isn’t the only one who has approached this issue, but have been really constated that those persons named as the net generation (that’s to say, those ones born after 1982) are experts in multitasking, needing fast feedback, prefering teamwork and collaboration, experienced learners, social, ambitious, career-oriented, willing fro freedom and customization?

Rather than making strong strong statements, what Mark Bullen faced during his talk was the lack of rigor of many studies in the academic world. What methodology have they followed to arise that conclusions, was the sample really significative or just by studying 100 students who already use technology are they making assumptions for a hole generation? Who is financing the study? These were some of the questions that he introduced before taking any position.

Really, I must confess how, step by step, he build a devastating and well-sustained criticism about studies and research in the academic field. I couldn’t avoid smiling when he mentioned the name of the blog in which they publish the results of their research about digital learners: netgenskeptic.

In relation with the dilemma already raised in the title, mainly what he said was that there hadn’t been proper research to define what students need. The assumption that immersion in digital technology is making net generation fundamentally different has to be reviewed. The use of technology isn’t just a generation issue. It affects all age groups as the use of technology is growing. Therefore, it can be considered that educational institutions are facing the consequences of a social change rather than a generation one.

Innovation days + Laurence Johnson’s presentation at UOC

Last Friday, I attended to the “Innovation days” organized by the Innovation office of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya. During the morning, there were several innovation projects’ presentations. They were grouped in four categories: Tecnologic Resources Development, Educational Use of ITC, Educational Metodology and Processes and Institutional Quality.

As the session was organized in corners, presentations happened simultaneously. Here, I must confess that, mainly, I attended to the projects selected for they Educational Use of ITC.  In short, I would summarize the main topics in: content organization, communication (development of an annotation tool), image (hipervideo and machinima) and simulation.

In the afternoon, Laurence Johnson presented the Horizon Project. Seven Ways Technology isUnfolding, Everything We Look. Again, main points of his presentation can be summarize in 3D visualization, use of games in education (concretely: serious games), development of new interfaces which are no longer seen as technology due to its intuitive and friendly use, user content creation, collective intelligence, ubiquitous networks (people can connect wherever they are) and cloud computing. He also notted that internet is becoming a third place, that’s to say, people is using the net as place to socialize.

Of course, this a very short summary, but as further information about technologic trends in education can be found in the on line Horizon Project, I prefer to just make the link and note down some of my impressions after the talk.

First of all, oks we are living in each time more tecno-society , or whatever you prefer calling it, but…what happens when there aren’t the condition to use all that online applications that are changing the way we learn, work, socialize? What happens for those who don’t have fast broadband or just can’t pay it? There’s no alternative to avoid “that phenomena” called “digital divide”?

Second question is quite related to the first one… are these trends really global? As far as there are many different contexts, it’s a bit strange that everywhere can be applied same trends (even in some cases, to guarantee a general access to technologic developments can be quite far in time speaking terms).

Finally, technological developments can’t be understood aside cultural/social aspects. What I mean is that for the normalization of a new technology is necessary some social measures/attitudes that ensure the future of that technology. For instance, nowadays, collaboration and mash up seem to be keywords of web 2.0 phenomena. However, strict copyright laws can difficult the work of those who “mash up” content. May be, strict laws won’t stop individual acts, but certainly they will, at least, make the generation of mashed up content much lesser than if it was completely allowed.

Thus, how are technologic developments affecting the social sphere? What kind of societies are arising as a consequence of the introduction of these tools?

Collaborative anarchy vs. controlled individualism

Does it make sense to talk about authorship in collaborative environment? Should all web 2.0 knowledge builders be anonymous? What’s the value of authorship?

These are some of the questions that started to arise after reading a post in zephoria’s blog. Here I copy the part I consider resums the key issue:

“Since Knol launched in beta, folks have been comparing it to Wikipedia (although some argue against this comparison). Structurally, they’re different. They value different things and different content emerges because of this. But fundamentally, they’re both about making certain bodies of knowledge publicly accessible. They just see two different ways to get there – collaborative anarchy vs. controlled individualism. Because Knol came after Wikipedia, it appears to be a response to the criticisms that Wikipedia is too open to anonymous non-experts.”

Collaborative anarchy vs. controlled individualism, is that what we should consider at the time of developping collaborative environments for knowledge building? Does authorship guarantee the credibility of a text, or any other material?

wikipediaObviously, wikipedia seems to be “the” Example of collaborative knowledge production. However, isn’t the critical mass of editors as well as other measures of control, a guarantee for information veracity? At this point it’s useful to take into account the following

“a controversial study by Nature in 2005 systematically compared a set of scientific entries from Wikipedia and Britannica (including some from the Britannica Web edition), and found a similar rate of error between them.”

http://yupnet.org/zittrain/archives/16

Possibly, the next question I should ask myself is… What determines our level of trust at the time of evaluating information? Quite probably, in many contexts Britannica seems more trustful than Wikipedia when, from my point of view, we should keep the same levels of skepticism in both cases. I don’t know why, but it could seems that “collaborative anarchy” can easily get associated with chaos and lack of rigor. And really, after reading a bit about wikipedia history I’ve realized that information posted there is much more supervised and can be corrected more fastly than any other online encyclopedia. Obviously, scalability in collaborative knowledge production environments is a problem or, at least, a difficulty to overcome. However, if it succeeds it brings an additional value: the consolidation of a digital identity. We don’t know who are britannica redactors nor wikipedia editors, so authorship can always be a non answered question. At this point, I would say that, possibly, wikipedia can have a stronger digital identity than many other online encyclopedias.  Anyway, the issue behind authorship is closely related with responsability. Who will accept responsabilities (legal, economical…) in case someone feels offended by false information?

I don’t want to underestimate responsability in everything I/you can say, write, post or just reproduce, but I’m not sure if the solution is an economic or legal penalty. Wikipedia has develop its own mechanisms to avoid/solve errors and its corrections are the result of a public debate. This it’s more effective than simple posting a note accepting the mistake as many media do.