Archive for the ‘Global Competency’ Category

A Waterloo for Publishing or for the University?

June 25, 2010

Cathy Davidson raised a series of issues in her reaction to a lawsuit known as Cambridge University Press, et al. v. Patton et al.

“My larger point?  We are in a confusing and damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t moment for publishing.  Scholarly publishing loses money.  Scholars who do not publish (at present) lose careers.  How do we balance these complex and intertwined issues in a sane way?  That is our question.”

Jim Groom has some thoughts on one aspect of this question — the issue of credit, or reputation, generated by journal publication:

“And, often times, but not always, that class [of author] is accompanied by three letters after their name and a long list of publications in similar journals which often, but not always, gives them entrè into the journal in the first place. Is this necessarily bad? No. Does it help certain ideas circulate to a particular audience? Yes. Are we putting too much power in the hands of these journals by reacting this way to the idea of credit? Absolutely.”

And as a result of highly valuing publishing in journals, we have created a system that is producing an avalanche of low-quality research.

Cathy’s question makes me think of the work of physicist A. Garrett Lisi, who is working outside the traditional academe system and who’s practice gave me insight to understand other ways of thinking about credit/reputation and also about gathering feedback for learning from a community:

“Lisi is developing social and intellectual capital by his strategy of working in public, and has posted a “pre-print” of some of his work in the highly visible High Energy Physics – Theory section of arXiv entitled ‘An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything.’

“The Wikipedia entry on Lisi’s paper gives a picture of how the work has generated social capital and become a focus of theoretical debate. The paper has been accumulating peer reviews (in the form of blog posts) and a number of citations including in refereed Physics journals as well as comments on the social news website Reddit.com.”

So, I think Cathy is pointing us to a multi-faced conversation about moving beyond the University (see John Seely Brown or Charles Ledbetter or Clay Shirkey) each of whom is exploring forces that I think will probably address Cathy’s “damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t moment” by rendering traditional publishers in academe irrelevant.

In her post Cathy says

“Shouldn’t we be teaching the genre [scholarly monograph] to our undergraduates (because we believe it is intrinsically worthy enough to determine someone’s career in the academy) as an estimable form? … [If we] require at least one scholarly monograph in every English class, … we show respect to the genre we say that we live by and we give back something to the publishers who, right now, are expected to publish our work but who experience abysmal sales of it.”

Here, I think Cathy’s comment brings academic publishing into the national conversation about university accountability to stakeholders (the students and those investing in them). Molly Corbett Broad wrote in the Chronicle about the political landscape for accreditation and accountability “The administration has already indicated a willingness to take action when it believes that higher-education institutions are not adequately serving students’ interests.” (alas it is “premium content” that you may not be able to access) I think Corbett and Shirkey are talking about forces that may render more than just traditional academic publishing irrelevant.

It strikes me that the scholarly monograph, as a discipline for the mind, could be useful, but it might not be a form “worth studying in every English class.” It might be more useful for students to be developing skills in peer-to-peer pedagogies, based in forms like blogs and wikis, that operate in a context of information abundance rather than to be studying a form based on information scarcity and expensive publication; a form that will not be used by most students in their future careers.

Why do I focus on credit/reputation and legitimate peripheral participation rather than the academic monograph in a conversation about accountability for learning outcomes? Because, I think discovering conversations, contributing and getting feedback are important aspects of peer-to-peer learning beyond the university. Good feedback is a tool for growth, both for the author and for the community of lurkers (see John Seely Brown on legitimate peripheral participation.)

As to Cambridge University Press, et al. v. Patton et al., I think it will be a passing blip, swept away by much larger forces transforming learning.

PS. And thinking about feedback and peer-to-peer learning is why I’m posting this in my blog  (  )  and then cross-posting it as a comment in Cathy’s blog at HASTAC. HASTAC’s blogs do not appear to support Trackback, so  I can’t comment to Cathy in my blog, and consequently I need to post a comment in hers. Which means I need to create a HASTAC identity (see these objections to creating accounts everywhere). Further, a HASTAC comment does not track back to the people I cite – making it even harder for them to discover and join the conversation.

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Who is preparing us for the Grand Challenges

March 16, 2010

This post is in response to a post by Cathy Davidson on HASTAC 2010:  Grand Challenges and Global Innovations coming up April 15-17.  She says ‘David and I are thinking ahead to our address on “The Future of Thinking:  Learning Institutions in a Digital Age.”   We will have a bicoastal conversation, and then a live chat, still in the planning stages.   So we’d love you to send us questions that might form the basis of that conversation on any aspect of our educational futures.’

This is a long preamble that ends in a question for Cathy and David in the last paragraph:

On March 5, 2010 the US Dept of Education released the National Educational Technology Plan 2010 (NETP) which says on page 4:

What and How People Need to Learn

Whether the domain is English Language arts, mathematics, sciences, social studies, history, art, or music, 21st century competencies and expertise such as critical thinking, complex problem solving, collaboration, and multimedia communication (emphasis added) should be woven into all content areas. These competencies are necessary to become expert learners, which we all must be if we are to adapt to our rapidly changing world over the course of our lives…

This NETP plan is titled “Learning Powered by Technology” but this list of learning goals does not depend on technology (except perhaps the multimedia) and none of the list depends (or acknowledges) the growing hyperconnectivity of the Internet or the shift from an information scarcity economy to one of information abundance.

Nearly simultaneously, the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) opened to comment its proposal for K-12 standards. The CCSSI standards purport to be getting students ready for college and the workplace.

In the Writing Standards for History/Social Studies and Science grades 11-12, I find, “6.   Demonstrate command of technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update work in response to ongoing feedback, including fresh arguments or new information.”  Which is interesting, especially when taken with this sidebar: “New technologies have broadened and expanded the role that speaking and listening play in acquiring and sharing knowledge and have tightened their link to other forms of communication. The Internet has accelerated the speed at which connections between speaking, listening, reading, and writing can be made, requiring that students be ready to use these modalities nearly simultaneously. (emphasis added) Technology itself is changing quickly, creating a new urgency for students to be adaptable in response to change.”

“Collaboration” is mentioned along with “comprehension,” in terms of social manners (good listening skills) but not in terms of skills in finding collaborators or learning communities on the Internet. “Social” is only mentioned in terms of “social studies,” and “community” does not appear in the document.

While its not surprising that CCSSI does not endorse learning using the Internet, except as mediated by public schools, it does not seem to recognize the wealth of resources, skills, and social capital that  learners potentially are bringing into the school setting.

Its interesting to contrast the NETP list, or the CCSSI with Howard Rhiengold’s 21’st century media literacy skills, or John Seely Brown’s thoughts on Learning 2.0 and communities of practice, or Cathy Davidson’s ideas of ‘collaboration by difference.’ Recently, David Gelernter, in Time to Start Taking the Internet Seriously said:

“Modern search engines combine the functions of libraries and business directories on a global scale, in a flash: a lightning bolt of brilliant engineering. These search engines are indispensable — just like word processors. But they solve an easy problem. It has always been harder to find the right person than the right fact. Human experience and expertise are the most valuable resources on the Internet — if we could find them. Using a search engine to find (or be found by) the right person is a harder, more subtle problem than ordinary Internet search

and

“The traditional web site is static, but the Internet specializes in flowing, changing information. The ‘velocity of information’ is important — not just the facts but their rate and direction of flow. Today’s typical website is like a stained glass window, many small panels leaded together. There is no good way to change stained glass, and no one expects it to change. So it’s not surprising that the Internet is now being overtaken by a different kind of cyberstructure.

and

“The structure called a cyberstream or lifestream is better suited to the Internet than a conventional website because it shows information-in-motion, a rushing flow of fresh information instead of a stagnant pool.”

Under “search” CCSSI says: “[Students will be able to] tailor their searches online to acquire useful information efficiently, and they integrate what they learn
using technology with what they learn offline,” which is a far cry from Gelernter’s  “the Internet specializes in flowing, changing information. The ‘velocity of information’ is important — not just the facts but their rate and direction of flow.”

Contemporaneous with the publication of NETP 2010 and the CCSSI, EDGE.org posted responses to its Question 2010: “How Has The Internet Changed The Way You Think?”

David Dalrymple, MIT, says:

“Filtering, not remembering, is the most important skill for those who use the Internet.

“I see today’s Internet as having three primary, broad consequences: 1) information is no longer stored and retrieved by people, but is managed externally, by the Internet, 2) it is increasingly challenging and important for people to maintain their focus in a world where distractions are available anywhere, and 3) the Internet enables us to talk to and hear from people around the world effortlessly.”

What David does not say, that I think is also important, is 4) the self generation of online systems for managing personal knowledge.  As a blogger, wiki contributor, and social bookmarker. I am building a digital footprint and a personal exosomatic memory!  I sometimes refer to the traces I have left to see what I was personally up to. Rarely, now, but as our productivity and capacity expands, we must be becoming more dependent on this exosomatic system. (I keep saying that, exosomatic because I use my website as a auto or personal blog of notes to myself, my memory displaced from my body.)

There seems to be a large disconnect between the NETP & CCSSI and the latter conversations.

Who will lead the transformation from our current institutions, K-20, to institutions that would support 21st century learning implied by a highly networked, information rich and information producing society facing global problems on an unprecedented scale?

Blog as ePortfolio

July 29, 2009

I’ve been thinking about blogs as ePortfolios for quite awhile, in a WSU blog system (now defunct) and here, here and here on the Educause blog site in posts going back as far as Feb 15, 2005.

In the earliest of those I reported on Washington State University blogging experiment:

We (CTLT) began hosting a university blogging tool last August. Because we had an [OSPI] ePortfolio initiative underway at the same time, I tried to keep our smaller blogging project out of the ePortfolio space, but I came to understand that was not possible. A blog is, at minimum, a presentation of a repository of journal entries. But since those entries can be selectively reflect on other posts, the blog can occupy the entire eportfolio space.

Yesterday I was reminded of how nice it is to have a blog of the work I’m doing at WSU. We were giving a webinar on our Harvesting Gradebook ideas and I could answer questions in the chat by pasting URLs of past blog posts.

In a conversation with colleagues after the webinar we were recognizing that the blog is our ePortfolio and when combined with the Harvesting ideas we are exploring, it may well be a totally adequate and perfectly simple solution to the ePortfolio problem.

My, how it takes time to fully recognize the obvious.

[Addendum Sept 28, 2009]
I just wrote some feedback to a writer working on a story about ePortfolios. It got me thinking that for me my several blogs are a portfolio, (several blogs concurrently and several blogs over time), but I’m not advocating blogs as everyone’s portfolio. What is valuable for me is the ability to find many of my pieces of work (which may actually be stored in other places) and to be able to quickly direct a person to my latest thinking. When my thinking updates, or I get asked a question for which there is not already a blog posted answer, then its time to write a new post. None of this is to say that, from a practical standpoint, my comments in the link above about Google being my portfolio are invalid. Google is the de facto tool that would be used by someone looking for me, so its representation of me is my (most public) portfolio. Managing that (and to the extent possible, being in control of key resources so that I can manage it) are my ongoing challenge.

Common Reading & Open Learning Communities

May 28, 2009

Thanks Bill Marler for your offer to support Washington State University’s Common Reading program after it got caught in a recent controversy regarding the book Omnivore’s Dilemma. See also developing Facebook action related to the topic.

From his blog, I can tell Marler has some appreciation of Web 2.0 as a life-long collaboration and learning strategy. This whole event is an example of how having a curriculum open to community review can improve learning outcomes. Searching in Google for “WSU Common Reading” shows that the event lit up a problem-solving community with multiple perspectives but overlapping interests in this topic; a community that produced the resources to sustain a learning opportunity.

WSU’s Center for Teaching Learning and Technology has been exploring how to help students learn in, from, and with such communities with projects like the Microsoft co-funded ePortfolio Contest. A variety of lessons can be learned from that project, including thoughts on how to transform the traditional gradebook by extending the idea of grading out into the community and making it a process for collecting community feedback on student work, AND the assignments that created the work, AND the program goals that shaped the assignments. I think this represents the way WSU needs to move forward with a Global Campus concept.

A lesson in driving up readership

May 5, 2009

On Friday, April 24 the Chronicle’s Wired Campus ran an item on the failure of U. of Michigan’s Online Teaching-Evaluation System. The article was hot news because of the scale of the player and the scale of the failure. I posted this comment near midnight Sunday, April 26:

My comment on the article

This drove a large spike in readership of the associated resources on April 27.

Page views for WSUCTLT blog

And examining how readers got to the site we see they came from several related pages in the Wired Campus article.

pages that referred to WSUCTLT

which brought readers to these pages

pages viewed as a result of the comment

Seattle PI switch marks the start of a new era

March 17, 2009

This item on the Seattle P-I website regarding the new era of online-only P-I has me thinking about the piece I recently read by Clay Shirky on the fate of newspapers.

Toward the end he posits the idea of using amateurs as part of the strategy. Perhaps this is a stringer approach. A number of comments on the P-I story are suggesting they not just copy the wire, the editors need to consider how to value-add to the wire, for example, with an original story that links to the wire and places it into local contexts.

There is an abundance of information out there, filtering, linking and contextualizing it could give it value. I’d suggest the P-I might also want to explore Yahoo Pipes and other RSS aggregators — either to feed to the page or to feed to editors who then write and link.

PS. Following this post I read Steven Berlin Johnson on changing newspaper strategies who suggests:

In fact, I think in the long run, we’re going to look back at many facets of old media and realize that we were living in a desert disguised as a rain forest. Local news may be the best example of this. When people talk about the civic damage that a community suffers by losing its newspaper, one of the key things that people point to is the loss of local news coverage. But I suspect in ten years, when we look back at traditional local coverage, it will look much more like MacWorld circa 1987. I adore the City section of the New York Times, but every Sunday when I pick it up, there are only three or four stories in the whole section that I find interesting or relevant to my life – out of probably twenty stories total. And yet every week in my neighborhood there are easily twenty stories that I would be interested in reading: a mugging three blocks from my house; a new deli opening; a house sale; the baseball team at my kid’s school winning a big game. The New York Times can’t cover those things in a print paper not because of some journalistic failing on their part, but rather because the economics are all wrong: there are only a few thousand people potentially interested in those news events, in a city of 8 million people. There are metro area stories that matter to everyone in a city: mayoral races, school cuts, big snowstorms. But most of what we care about in our local experience lives in the long tail. We’ve never thought of it as a failing of the newspaper that its metro section didn’t report on a deli closing, because it wasn’t even conceivable that a big centralized paper could cover an event with such a small radius of interest.

Tag:me

November 14, 2008

I have been struggling with how to understand and implement a Web 2.0 resume. Today it came to me that I need a new Diigo tag – “me.” I’d put this tag on stuff that is mine or about me: blog posts, pages, photos, etc. Then I would be able to get an RSS of “me.” Further, I can readily share me in different resumes for different audiences by combining tags in Diigo. [The syntax looks like: http://www.diigo.com/rss/user/nils_peterson/+ ] You, the reader of “me,” can gather evidence from the forward- or backward- looking evidence of my effectiveness. I can use tags like me+reflection to mark more reflective steps in my work. Because it’s a feed of things I’m tagging, it stays as current as my tagging.

This “feed resume” is analogous to Dave Cormier’s “feed book” and it extends thinking about my blog as my portfolio or any other one space as my PLE. It serves as both a tool to present myself, and as a vehicle for a reader to walk (via Diigo) other things that I tag and other communities that tag the things I tag.

In the case of things I write that others tag, it is a way of measuring the social capital of those things (and me). See for example what is happening around this article I co-authored in JOLT. Showcasing myself is one of the things a resume purports to do.

It seems that this same thinking can be extended to “we.” In this case, the tag to use would be for my group, in this case the Center for Teaching Learning and Technology. This thinking also makes me extend my previous suggestion about the implementing a Web 2.0 organization website with the idea that we would collectively use a WSUCTLT when we are tagging us. Which clarifies a difference. I’d been thinking about our Diigo group (CTLT and Friends) as a place we’d put stuff we found interesting AND stuff by us. This “we” tag idea lets there be a clean separation. The group is a way to share stuff we find. The “we” tag is a way to build the unit’s portfolio.

Power of Me tag

Diigo-ing a page and adding the me tag becomes an invitation to say what your role is, or claim is, to the page. It lets you build a portfolio of things on the web that are otherwise not obviously yours. It also invites that you write a reflection (in your blog) about the lessons you learned in your involvement with the page you just me-tagged.

After the Election – Solving the next problem

November 14, 2008

Obama for America created a large grassroots network of volunteers and now its become a football, with a struggle for who should control it. The LA Times article points at the problem of converting this insurgency to a standing army. But that’s Web 1.0 thinking. I got the email mentioned in the article from campaign manager David Plouffe asking for donations to help the DNC retire its debt. It had the caché of the Obama brand. I deleted it. Web 1.0

It sounds like the Obama organization was more Web 2.0, more like a group of cells. Communities, organized, but loosely joined. They were working on local instances of a common problem (get the Obama word out, get voters to the polls)., but they were solving that problem in ways that recognized the local context.

Rather than turn the organization over to the DNC, I’d point the organization toward working on real problems. Turn that energy to making change. Camp Obama would become Problem Identification Coach Obama. It would coach the membership in the organization in problem identification. Is the local problem hunger? Unpack that. Is it supply of food or inability to cook from staples? Unpack that. Does the supply chain fail, or isn’t there enough in the chain?

Create mechanisms for the members in the organization to organize into new cells, this time organized around problems they have found in common. Begin sharing solutions and strategies. The eCitizenFoundation.org is working on BigDialog as a way to ask a question (or pose a problem) to Obama. There is a voting up/down mechanism, but it seems that a tagging system (where the tags are various problems) might add greater value than for organizing communities than just voting a question off the island. Change.org (not .gov) is another approach. It has some causes, and actions, and ways for people to join the causes or actions (and one assumes network into cells for action). Based on work at CTLT, I’ve suggest how to bring in formal education into the mix in ways that will make learning powerful and transform education itself.

Implementing Obama’s 100 Hours of Service Plan

November 10, 2008

At the Obama/Biden transition site, Change.gov, there is description of a universal voluntary service plan. This includes an idea to “establish a new American Opportunity Tax Credit that is worth $4,000 a year in exchange for 100 hours of public service a year.” And a goal to expand service-learning in the nation’s schools with “a goal that all middle and high school students do 50 hours of community service a year.”

That sounds exciting, but the downside in fraud and corruption is easy to see. To see the problem, look at who can certify my 100 hours of service to the Feds for my tax credit and what I might be doing for them to earn that certification. Beyond those limitations, where is the motivation for the 101’st hour of service? Where is the motivation to quality service? How does this service get leveraged into even greater gains?

Its still a great idea and there is a simple, and powerful, extension to it. We have been pointing at examples, and building some ourselves (see below). It requires a partnership between the school (its teachers and curriculum), the problem being addressed, and the community in which the problem is situated. Here is an example of real problem solving in service to community in a high school in Minneapolis, MN. Expeditionary Learning Schools/ Outward Bound are consulting with schools along similar lines.

For example, a school could set a goal to harness the interests and expertise of the school’s community (students, staff, parents and alumni) to address real world problems encountered by communities both locally and globally. Its curriculum would be designed to collaborate with community members – institutional, local, or global – to identify a problem, explore solutions, develop a plan, and then take steps toward implementing that plan. Students would engage these challenges as service learning. The outcomes of their work would be readily documentable using ideas like Gary Brown’s Harvesting Gradebook. But more than just documenting the student work, the process would have transformative impacts on the educational institution also, far more profound than the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) or the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) standardized testing.

The importance of this strategy is its immediacy. It can be launched rapidly (its already started), it can target needs in communities without a large bureaucracy to decide what the needs are. It can tap local resources and world resources at the same time. It scales well.

Examples

Harvard Program in Networked Governance “The traditional notion of hierarchical, top down, government has always been an imperfect match for the decentralized governance system of the US. However, much of what government does requires co-production of policy among agencies that have no formal authority over each other, fundamentally undermining the traditional Weberian image of bureaucracy.”

United Nations Volunteers “The paper argues that volunteering, like social activism, can be purposeful and change-orientated. Volunteering can be directed at influencing agenda-setting, policy-making, decision-making and representation, and is also an important mechanism for promoting empowerment, personal transformation and social inclusion.

The paper also highlights the complementary and supporting roles that volunteering and activism play in fostering participation. For example, social activism plays an important role in providing leadership, defining areas for engagement and mobilising individuals.”

EDUCAUSE Tower and the Cloud “The emergence of the networked information economy is unleashing two powerful forces. On one hand, easy access to high-speed networks is empowering individuals. People can now discover and consume information resources and services globally from their homes. Further, new social computing approaches are inviting people to share in the creation and edification of information on the Internet. Empowerment of the individual — or consumerization — is reducing the individual’s reliance on traditional brick-and-mortar institutions in favor of new and emerging virtual ones.

Land Grant 2.0 “Dramatic shifts in the economy associated with the rise of globalism call into question the traditional ways in which land-grant institutions have defined their roles in contributing to economic and social well-being. Since the assets most needed for global economic viability – a base of innovation, talented people, and ubiquitous connectivity – are core strengths of universities, it is fair to ask how these institutions can more holistically engage with economically distressed regions to build critical innovation economy competencies.” see also University of Illinois Global campus.

WSU ePortfolio Contest “The goal of the 2007 – 08 WSU ePortfolio Contest was to harness the interests and expertise of the WSU community to address real world problems encountered by communities both locally and globally. It called upon contestants to collaborate with community members – institutional, local, or global – to identify a problem, explore solutions, develop a plan, and then take steps toward implementing that plan.” See also specific winners: Margo Tamez, Kayafungo Women’s Water Project

ThinkCycle This is the thesis to study the (now-defunct) ThinkCycle project exploring “How can we create an environment that encourages distributed individuals and organizations to tackle engineering design challenges in critical problem domains? How should we design appropriate online collaboration platforms, support learning, social incentives and novel property rights to foster innovation in sustainable design?” This concept can be broadened out beyond the engineering domain to other problem domains. An example is National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance, that says of itself, “The NCIIA works with colleges and universities to build collaborative experiential learning programs that help nurture a new generation of innovators and entrepreneurs with strong technical and business skills and the tools and intention to make the world a better place.”

A final example is Talia Leman, at age 10 organized fund raising for Katrina relief, and has since started RandomKid.org to help other children become social entrepreneurs. In this NYTimes OpEd notes “Frankly, these kinds of initiatives have a mixed record in terms of helping the poor in a cost-effective way. But they have a superb record in enlightening and educating the organizers.” which may be exactly the outcome that is most important from some of these efforts. The Times piece also points out some other efforts along similar lines.

Cell phone streaming/ recording

August 9, 2008

Following the advice in the manifesto I wrote a couple weeks ago, Theron has been exploring Diigo (thanks to Micheal Wesch for the pointer) as a bookmark tool. I think it is the one to adopt within our unit.

Exploring in Diigo I found the site’s blog with an item reporting an
Interview by Scoble with Diigo founder. The service Scoble used is called Qik which provides the streaming, capturing tool. It looks like they have an application to use Qik from the iPhone.

The reason for this note is to observe Scoble implementing ideas in the manifesto (pushing the live video to the Internet). In this piece Scoble talks about the audience chatting back to the camera — the audience is smarter than the person doing the interview. Another variant of the “We smarter than me” idea.

The other reason for the post is to record the choice Theron and I are proposing, that Diigo be one of the tools of the WSU CTLT community, and one of the tools of the Planetary CTLT.

PS. So I explored Qik, got it on my phone and made my first recording. Elapsed time 10+ min. Also learned that once you have a jail broken phone you can get more apps by adding sources (Qik has you do this).

http://qik.com/swfs/qik_player.swf