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Posted to Diigo 08/01/2010

xWeb « Connectivism Annotated

  • Naming things is important. It’s easier to say “web 2.0″ than “participative, fragmented content, conversation-driven web”. Unfortunately, names give shape to concepts that are often imprecise. Sometimes words hurt more than they help.
  • xWeb is the utilization of smart, structured data drawn from our physical and virtual interactions and identities to extend our capacity to be known by others and by systems. This is an imprecise definition, but it’s a start
  • It involves a negotiation of two key questions that I continue to grapple with:

    1. What does technology do better than people?

    2. What do people do better than technology?

With xWeb, we are rethinking what we have to do as people and starting to rely on what technology does better than we possibly could. Over the last few years, I’ve been trying to capture the nature of the change around technology. Some of the recurring themes:

  • augmentation
  • aggregation
  • semantic web
  • location-based services (geoweb)
  • data overlaya
  • smart information
  • visualization
  • social media
  • open data and data in general
  • Internet of things
  • cloud computing
  • mobile technologies
  • analytics and monitoring
  • And, to that list, we could add filtering, recommender systems, distributed “like this” tools, annotation tools (diigo), wearable computing, and so on
      • Web 1.0 mainly seemed to consist of semantics, Web 2.0 of connections, communications, multi-media, virtual worlds and the introduction of mobile devices through the emergence of wireless and higher Internet connection speeds; while Web 3.0 connects data streams in a supposedly intelligent way. The combination of all four would lead to Web X.0 (Steve) or Web X (Stephen)
      • Why would anybody need some researchers and developers to work on a PLE for them?
      • 1. Intelligent data connections are one exciting option for PLE development and networked learning. Recommender systems of information, resources, critical friends and experts could form part of the access options for learners in a PLE that they would not likely be finding in a self-directed fashion
      • 2. That brings me to the challenges of an open online networked environment for learning. Not all adult learners are able to critically assess what they find online and might prefer to receive guidance from knowledgeable others
      • educators have highlighted that there is a real need for critical literacies while learning informally on networks
      • people might not necessarily have the critical literacies required to learn and search independently
      • Learning in my view is not synonymous with accessing information, and requires a level of reflection, analysis, perhaps also of problem solving, creativity and interaction with people to be able to get the best out of the structures and sub-structures of the Internet
      • the majority of people in the northern hemisphere should now have access to technology (so happy to see Rita qualify the statement with “…in the northern hemisphere…”)

      • The people least likely to use the Internet are also the least likely to participate in adult education
      • And I haven’t even spoken about the people on the southern half of the globe, where the access and participation rate to technology and learning is even lower and the group of vulnerable people greater. Should we just leave these people behind?
      • The components that were formulated in Stephen Downes’ vision for a PLE at the start of the PLE project of the National Research Council of Canada are the following: 1. A personal profiler that would collect and store personal information. 2. An information and resource aggregator to collect information and resources. 3. Editors and publishers enabling people to produce and publish artifacts to aid the learning and interest of others. 4. Helper applications that would provide the pedagogical backbone of the PLE and make connections with other internet services to help the learner make sense of information, applications and resources. 5. Services of the learners choice. 6. Recommenders of information and resources.
      • Having been born into a world where personal computers were not a revolution, but merely existed alongside air conditioning, microwaves and other appliances, there has been (a perhaps misguided) perception that the young are more digitally in-tune with the ways of the Web than others
      • Apparently, the students favor search engine rankings above all other factors. The only thing that matters is that something is the top search result, not that it’s legit.
      • many students trusted in rankings above all else
      • researchers found that even in this supposedly savvy minority, none actually followed through to verify the identification or qualifications of the site’s authors
      • students are not always turning to the most relevant clues to determine the credibility of online content
      • Several strands of research demonstrate that displaying a personal interest in students is not only effective as a way to encourage participation and engagement, but necessary for real learning negative emotions such as fear and shame, all too common in the college classroom, retard learning, due to “choking,” the shutting down of higher-order thinking, and the activation of more primitive areas of the brain associated with the fight-or-flight syndrome

        undergraduate students repeatedly mention the importance of one-to-one interaction with instructors. Displaying a personal interest in students is the first step toward demonstrating that community exists within the classroom and across the campus

      • Be available to students in ways that you judge are not too invasive of your personal boundaries

        Encourage and respond to email

        Solicit and respond to student feedback

      • Mid-semester evaluations that you create and use to fine-tune instruction midstream also convey to students that you care what they think and about their learning

        During discussions and other interactions with students, really listen to them, striving to hear what students are really saying; not what we want to hear and/or assume students are saying

      • making connections between academic material and students’ personal experience also conveys an interest in students and their learning.

    By Michael Rowe

    I'm a lecturer in the Department of Physiotherapy at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa. I'm interested in technology, education and healthcare and look for places where these things meet.