The Long Tail of learning – The Learners!

September 26, 2008

Found this well known graphic in an August 2008 briefing by Dr. Mike Prevou (US Army retired)- but I had never really seen it labelled this way. With the long part of the Long Tail being names LEARNERS! Well this should make people thinka little harder, why we spend so much effort choosing, selecting and agonizing over the formal learning decisions (i.e. which LMS to purchase, which Operating System to run it on, how often to run offsite backup, which brand of compliance testing should we use) — when in fact, the long tail value in the equation is the information learning – self-directed by the Learners themselves!

Give your staff access to Google Docs, Webspiration, some wki and blog software – remove their limits on email box size, let them share information, reports, contacts, bookmarks…Drive space is so cheap, install a Raid 5 array of USB Sticks if you have to!  Let the staff chew on, crunch, mash, recombine and create information, ideas and knowledge – and just maybe, we might see some innovation sparks as a result. Maybe even our Learners will get the learning that they so desire.


Thoughts on Networks – CCK08 Week3

September 26, 2008

Ok, hope I am not getting to sound like a broken record – so soon into this blog – but while reading Stephen’s presentation on Learning Networks (circa 3/9/05), I saw something that resonated. Sure Networks include entities, connections and signals. No big deal there. But when considering the differences in networks, Stephen mentions Density, Speed, Flow and Plasticity.

Of course, I see LinkedIN as being fast, but other Web 2.0 tools are fast too. Other networks provide a nice flow of information too. But for Density, I am not sure that I can get my hands around another tool that provides as much density around my connections as LinkedIN does. From my vantage point, surrounded by 125+ contacts that I share any number of interests with — I feel the density being many times much, since their connections, numbering 70,000 — all seem to become aware of updates, changes, Questions etc, as their connections react to my actions.

So without almost any energy on my part, on any given day, my connections continue to go about their business of networking – and my Learning Network continues to grow. And not just growing huge in all directions, but primarily in directions related to my core interests (since the common contacts all share one or more of my core interests to begin with!).  So for someone looking to increase or improve “their ability to see connections between fields, ideas and concepts” — well, I have just accomplished the 3rd Principle of Connectivism, as noted on Slide 19 of Stephen’s ppt.

This is not to say, that I don’t want or need additional Web 2.0 (and Web 3.0) tools – because I do! I am just saying, that I find LinkedIN to provide many of the Networking features that Connectivism mandates. I intend to post some capabilities that I think I would like to see in a future toolset, which could help take this existing network of shared-likeness contacts to a whole new level of innovative learning.

And no, I am not a paid consultant to LinkedIN – I am just a satisfied user of a free tool……and building some opinions of what I would like to see in future tools.

Informal PLE – A commercial example of Leveraging the Network

September 24, 2008

Without mentioning names — just yesterday afternoon, in a conversation with a colleague, I was told this true story.

This person told me how their private firm (thousands of dispersed staff around the US) used bulk emails to ask questions (and for assistance on a variety of hot topics) to their colleagues, using pre-determined Communities of Practice membership as their guideline. Literally, first thing in the morning, when they all check their corporate Outlook accounts (many on Blackberry devices), a call-for-assistance for a specific topic or customer might be received, and within 30 or 45 minutes, the requestor likely has 20-30 replies from a variety of perspectives – each offering some sort of assistance.

Then the requestor can select amongst these opportunities and compare/contrast/combine/renegotiate – anything they desire – but the key point being, they are able to look quick and responsive to their customer’s requirements BECAUSE of the leveraging power of their Information Network.

I know that this story does not have the usual suspects of Web 2.0 tools to assign praise to: Blogs, Wikis, Google Docs, MySpace (LOL) – not even LinkedIN, one of my favorites – but it simply works. It would likely have a greater ROI than some of these other tools, if one were to be calculated, but why bother. This works. Did I already tell you, this works?

Go forth and use the tools which work. And let me know when you find some good stories, as I like to retell them to others in my Information Network.

Informal PLE – Using LinkedIN’s Q&A

September 23, 2008

For the last two months, I have become actively engaged in using LinkedIN’s Question & Answer feature. I have posted what I think are interesting questions, and watched as the various users posted their own answers over a 7-day period. At the conclusion, I rate which ones I consider GOOD, and then am able to select which (if any) is the BEST one. I have created at least 5-10 new contacts in the eLearning and Gaming areas based on this effort (since it does take time, thought, and energy, this must qualify as a work effort, right?) – and have seen literally dozens of new perspectives being voiced in these answers.

Friends of mine continue to tell me just how “powerful blogging is” and “that I should post more” – but in my mind, instead of having a one-way posting on my blog (here) – I can use this LinkedIN  feature and spend the same amount of time and get guaranteed high-quality responses. I have only small ego on this blog, and understand that I am not going to have an audience of 1000 or 10,000 anytime soon – not sure I need to. But using Q&A on LinkedIN, I am reaching 125+ first level contacts, and about 18,000 second level ones (i.e. Friends of friends). This may not be online learning, but I am sure gaining a lot of valuable insights, and sharing an equal amount of insights — so I am hard pressed not to consider this my private learning environment/network.

So this begs the question “Is this use of contacts, both known and semi-unknown, a powerful new learning network?”  I think so.

Evolution of Learning

September 22, 2008

Quick note: Just wondering if others had already thought of this:

Just as water power was one of the primary kinetic energy sources of the early Industrial Revolution — I wonder if Web 2.0 contains the “kinetic energy source” for the current Learning (sic eLearning) Revolution?

Later electrical distribution lines allowed mills and factories to located away from the flowing water – just like the “distance connections” spoken of in Connectivism might allow for learning to be facilitated “anyplace, anytime” using these electronic channels to funnel “the energy”?

Learning – and thoughts about it…

September 22, 2008

Ran across an interesting quotation today on a strange website, one dedicated to Tactical Intelligence Professionals!

In times of change… Learners inherit the earth,
While the learned
Find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world
that no longer exists.

     by Erik Hoffer

This has me pondering, about the confluence of CCK08 issues and the very large, Serious Gaming efforts going on, almost in a vacuum – though I see both as situated very near one another.

More details to come later this week in future posts.

First webconference..

September 11, 2008

Well tonight was the first of the weekly Web-Conferences. Technology worked fine, about 50-55 people attended. I tried to speak (using the headset mic) a few times, but never actually got heard. I entered a few comments and suggestions for the moderators to consider chatting about, but without much success.

The upload of the exciting JPG from Dion Hinchcliffe did not even garner a single audio comment from the crowd.

So maybe I am doing something wrong? Maybe 1900 other people know more about Connectivism than I do? Maybe, or maybe not – time will tell as this experimental course plays on.

Anyone interested in watching a short video from a very innovative tech company who is building something radical — Massively Multiplayer Online Learning product. With a company name like GROCKIT how bad can it be?