Erik Duval’s topic for Change MOOC this week was Learning in a Time of Abundance , which he equates to changes in connectedness (we can be more connected to people and information than ever before), openness and transparency (access and resources) and ‘always on’ (e.g. students access their online connections 24/7). See also – http://erikduval.wordpress.com/2011/11/13/change-11-learning-in-times-of-abundance/. Here are some notes I made during his session.
Abundance will not go away (at least not in the foreseeable future) and has implications for what we learn and how we learn. Erik Duval models this understanding in the way in which he teaches:
- He encourages his students to be connected during his classes, i.e. have their laptops and mobile phones on
- His classes can run for 5 hours, which gives students the time to find their own lines of enquiry and navigate a path through the abundance of information
- His students have to overcome analysis and paralysis by actively dispensing with discomfort
- His classroom has no walls – anyone can ‘break in’.
- Everything done in class is open to the outside world
- Students are encouraged to track their own progress and set their own goals
- Learning is about working with wicked problems as happens in the workplace.
- Learning is messy – that’s how life is – and messiness is OK, but incoherence is not
- Tasks are authentic and relevant
- He recommends that we don’t ask for permission, but ask for forgiveness if things go wrong
His main advice was to ‘Let go’ – of fake control.
Then he set two challenges – to post:
1. Any examples you find inspiring about how teachers or students leverage abundance for learning
2. Any examples you can identify or think of where openness would be more of a problem than an opportunity?
- I think a learners’ ability to leverage abundance for learning depends on whether they have the knowledge, skills and strategies for pulling information in, rather than going out to go out and look for it – and this of course involves the ability to filter (beware the filter bubble – http://www.thefilterbubble.com/ted-talk ) analyse and select. The pulling in also requires technical skills that are maybe taken for granted by those ‘in the know’ and knowledge of the softwares that will do this for us. It will also depend on a learners’ networks and connections.
The question does seem to assume that leveraging abundance is desirable and will lead to better learning. On what grounds can we take this stance? Could we argue that it will just lead to a huge muddle and confusion for the poor learner? I don’t believe this – just playing Devil’s Advocate.
As far as an inspiring example of where this happens – I don’t think we need to look much further than Stephen Downes, MOOCs and OLDaily.
2.Where would openness be more of a problem than an opportunity? I can see that the ‘filter bubble’ would be an example of this – but from a personal perspective I would say – any situation where the outcome would be harmful to society, the environment or the individual. Of course, determining what we mean by ‘harmful’ will be open to different interpretations and there’s the rub. How do we decide?
In discussing this with a close friend this morning, we thought of examples where this has cropped up in the past. One is a colleague who was a Principal of a Higher Education Institution, whose firm belief was that all information in his institution should be open – he didn’t believe that anything should be ‘hidden’. A second was a colleague who is working as a management adviser to a hospice, where the question of what information should be open and what should not has been a focus of recent discussions.
In having this discussion we realized that it depends on what you mean by ‘information’ – and whether there is a difference between information, data and knowledge. And then of course there are ‘facts’ – or maybe not (ref. Dave Cormier who does not believe in facts). So I looked it up and came across this interesting site – http://www.infogineering.net/data-information-knowledge.htm but having listened to the Filter Bubble Ted Talk – I realize that Google might simply be feeding me what I want to hear 🙂
So I’m still thinking about all this – and looking forward to Erik’s next session, which I might not be able to attend at the time, but will listen to the recording.