Informal Learning – 8yr olds even know it…

April 20, 2010

Photo caption from April 2010 issue of Fast Company, Article called “A is for APP”
Just think about the quote from the 8yr old in this photo “It’s educational because you can do it by yourself.”

The US spends how many billions of dollars a year, for 100 years, training our kids by teachers writing on chalk boards to a class of silences kids. And this 8yr old explains in a sentence why he feels that he and his laptop (and the Internet) are what he needs to educate himself. I believe in guidance, curriculum, mentoring, training and supervision – but maybe those could be added to a very informal learning paradigm (Montessori as a baseline maybe?) — and out produce the current failing system.


Oscar Soto, 8

Hometown: Greenwood, Indiana
School: North Grove Elementary
Device: HP Mini 2140

“When it’s time to work on our laptop, I get excited because maybe we get to have free time. We might go to a fun Web site. Sometimes we can learn more information. We learned about frogs and toads.

Favorite game for the whole year? It’s Mario Movie Maker. You can make a movie and you can put it in your own voice and you can choose music. It’s educational because you can do it by yourself.”

February 11, 2009

Well, reading one of many magazines I still get in print — I found reference to a term which really made me think long and deeply over this week.  Phase was “vuja de” – a play on deja vu of course, but when I did some googling, I found some references to it which inspired me to actually blog about it.  I am what some might called “activated” about this, and think that there really might be something here, which could apply to many organizations (my present work environment included) – and that just possibly, the worsening economic situation in the US just might be able to be twisted into a positive business opportunity for those special people who understand and utilize “vuja de” correctly.

So here are the references which I found:

Anthropologists in Pursuit of ‘Vuja De’
By: Fast Company staff
Fri Feb 8, 2008 at 2:27 AM

Everybody has heard of deja vu, right? It’s the distinct feeling you’ve been here before. When you go out to do field work in Anthropologist mode, you should aspire to the opposite: a state of mind my friend Bob Sutton at Stanford calls “vuja de.” Vuja de happens when you enter a situation you’ve been in a thousand times before, but with the sense of being there for the first time.

As French novelist Marcel Proust said, “The real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands but in seeing with new eyes.” So if you want to find untapped innovation opportunities, watch the world around you with “fresh eyes.” Go for a sense of vuja de, and then ask yourself why things are the way they are. Why do people wear a watch when their cellphone keeps perfect time? Why don’t movie theaters sell soundtracks as you exit the film? Why do we all have answering machines to record messages from telephone callers, but nothing to record a message from someone who stops by our home or office? Why don’t business guys wear hats in the winter, even when it’s below freezing?

Once you start asking the right vuja de questions, you might find that the answers can lead to big opportunities for your business.


CLO, Feb 2009
“With fresh eyes, she could see the same thing as everyone else but understand it in a unique way. The late George Carlin coined a phrase for this gift ‘vuja de’. It’s the opposite of ‘deja vu’, which is that feeling you get that you’ve been there or done that before. Vuja de, on the other hand, means looking at something familiar, but in a way you’ve never seen it before. Let’s face it: Most companies in most industries have a kind of tunnel vision. They chase the same opportunities everyone else is chasing, they miss the same opportunities that everyone else is missing. It’s the companies that see a different game what win big. The most important question for innovation today is ‘What do you see that the competition does not see?’ Answering that question requires vuja de.”


So readers, if you want to make a project succeed, in these unstable and tough economic times – you might just want to see “the same old things” as something new and try to solve your problems more creatively – you might just make some money doing it!

Week 12 CCK08 – Not the end, just thoughts…

November 26, 2008

Well, I am just not sure that the Education system (or should I say TEACHERS) want to change with the latest technology innovations which arrived at their doorstep. In the past, I think Education did take a backseat to Business – getting the hand-me-downs of innovation and techniques, tactices and procedures (TTP). (2020 and beyond, Hans Daanen and Keri Facer, Futurelab, June 2007)

If educators are to shape the future of education…” – well yeah, that is a touch question I think. From my many questions/answers on LinkedIN, the general sense is that Education (at least in the US) is driven by teachers who are resistant to quick change, and are not really interested, in general, with adopting new methods during their tenure. Of course this is referring to the Formal Learning environment — since I have seen and experienced first hand in CCK08 just how willing 2200+ people can be in adopting new methods and tools to collaborate, learn and express interest/opinions.

Thus I would have to conclude that for Education to be successful in the future, it may have to rely more on it’s informal arm and the marketplace will likely reward those institutions which adopt the most important new technologies and capabilities from Web 2.0 that the learners desire/demand. The marketplace is highly efficient in this respect (i.e. see huge growth of Phoenix Online) and I think that increasing financial pressures will come to bear on Formal Learning organizations who are unable/unwilling to adapt to their students’ needs.

No really, too popular to succeed.

October 9, 2008

I learned about the Matthew Principle this week, via some readings…and I am kinda concerned. Defined somewhat like “more will be given to those that already have.”


“For example, popular sites in Google that appear on the first page of search results, are apt to remain so because people seldom search much further than that first page, so there is a positive feedback loop whereby those at the top tend to stay there.”

(“Collectives, Networks and Groups in Social Software for E-Learning” by Dron/Anderson)


So how does this affect eLearning trends  — I am concerned that current and future innovation might get stiffled by this effect – as can be seen by my informal survey performed on LINKEDIN recently, where I asked the question “Why is it so difficult to change the practice of Education?” -to which I received some interesting answers – but my summation was that existing condition have huge inertia which are terribly hard to change. Then I asked “How come more people don’t teach using stories?”, and a number of people answered because teachers might or might not see the value in changing from their historical (safe) methods.

Maybe the sun will continue to rise day by day, and new innovations will somehow displace yesterday’s hottest new thing, but I am simply a little skeptical – given the enormity of the Internet, and incredibly fragmented nature of technology across the globe (millions or billions of capable XML/PHP/AJAX programmers), making it ever so hard for a new innovation to garner a sizeable marketshare against not 10 but 10,000 open source, free alternatives!  Has our favorite tool’s popularity now become an impediment fo our innovation to succeed, and become the future new-new thing? (Maybe this is MS Office’s problem?)

Connectivism – Learning Theory or Tool for Learning (Friedman’s paper)

October 3, 2008

Connectivism – Learning Theory or Tool for Learning

Mark Friedman

October 2, 2008


Apologies to start this informal paper with a quote, but it really is my abstract…


“The idea of learning through digital connections and peer collaboration enhanced by technologies driving Web 2.0. Users/Learners are empowered to search, create, and collaborate in order to fulfill intrinsic needs to learn new information.” (eLearning Guild, E-Learning 2.0 “Learning in a Web 2.0 World”, Wexler et al, 23 Sept 2008)


I think that Connectivism helps explain why certain Web 2.0 technologies actually work – and help people achieve desired learning. Obviously, we are all told that tools don’t solve problems, but that people do. Using these tools in a creative and innovative ways is how people vary and some leverage these tools differently than others can.  What excited me about the deep thinking that CCK08 has helped me perform over the past four weeks, is mostly surrounding the results of an integrated network – what I have begun to refer to as a Personal Learning Environment/Network (PLE).


“The pipe is more important than the content within the pipe… A real challenge for any learning theory is to actuate known knowledge at the point of application.” (, “A Learning Theory for the Digital Age”, Siemens, 12 Dec 2004)


This quote by George Siemens resonated with me, in that it brought together my prior knowledge of McCluhan (Medium is the Message) with my a-priori knowledge that LinkedIN’s primary value had to lay in the business/social network aspect of the service. I have actually utilized this free tool, at the point of application, so to speak, as a last minute source for what needs to be called market research, and possibly even Subject Matter Expertise. So whether or not I had given any thought to what a Learning Theory was, before CCK08 began, really becomes less relevant than my realization that my prior use of Facebook, Second Life, Twitter, AIM, Google Docs & Reader and LinkedIN…. essentially I have understood how these tools are actually learning tools and how they can be combined to form a fluid PLE.


I do want to spend some time in CCK08 exploring the idea that shear acceleration of information growth in our society is bound to have a profound impact on our Personal Learning – just like it is on our formal learning constructs. Today’s kindergartners will graduate high school facing 128 times as much information as today. Obviously, we need disruptive technologies, as well as wonderful innovation tools just to be able to handle the enormous information overload. Communication skills, creative skills and analytic skills are all three going to be ever more important (and sometimes I think more rare than they should be, but that’s a reflection on our formal learning institutions!).


Some questions have come to mind so far in this course, including what are the real implications of Connectivism within society, and specifically within the Educational Community. Of course, I have posted that question in LinkedIN already to attempt to get the audience’s opinion on that (smile). I also agree with a fellow classmate, Tom Whyte, who posted a thought, of “what number of participants in a network are required to make it valid and/or effective”? Is there something magical about the 100-node network? What advantages are there is growing from 125 up to 175 people? These are things I would still like to research and learn about.


Ending with a pertinent quote, from my LinkedIN Q&A, posted at 7am today, and answered within 4 hours (i.e. what a great Web 2.0 network!):


“What then constitutes the safest and most effective learning environment? Some believe that you have to contextualize learning to achieve efficiency. Other believe that abstract learning is better, followed by vocational training as required. These issues are independent of the growth in the volume of information available to be learned. Selection criteria of the content to be offered for learning is not the same as the activity of learning. However, you correctly imply that it is a nonsense to distinguish between theories of cognition and theories of learning. How the mind acquires signals, attributes meaning both denotative and connotative, and operationalizes activity based on those meanings is a complex but single process representing the ability to learn and adapt behavior based on that learning.” (David Marshall, 2 Oct 2008)


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.

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”?