Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Paradox of Networks

I listened to the disadvantages of networks with a great deal of interest last night. You see, I'm a glass half full kind of person, my blindspot is the downside of things. I guess the GFC was a great eye-opener in the danger of inter-dependencies of a networked society - that this inter-connectedness makes us all more vulnerable to an impact in one (now non-isolated) part as it ripples through the web.

Anyway, this talk was great and it touches on something that Ralph Stacey wrote about in his complexity books. By actually concentrating on the group - and their outcomes, the individual is actually (paradoxically) given a greater respect, a more noble impact with their contribution. This is the central paradox - that group think, the wisdom of the crowd, is only maximised if all the people in the group are independent, are individuals. Everyone has to be free to voice their own concerns, not be swayed by what others think of their opinions. Because the downside is a circle mill, where we all goose-step into oblivion. Is this consumerism?

I've been returning to a problem posed to us by one of my Design professors - that we all want to be individuals, but belong to a group. Eat our cakes. We are defined by who we belong to, as much as we are by our thoughts and actions.

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the conditions that surround him... The unreasonable man adapts surrounding conditions to himself... All progress depends on the unreasonable man." George Bernard Shaw

There must be a fine line between having the courage to speak your convictions and not alienating yourself from the group with your opinions. A fine balance...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Social Networking/Media, Boundary Spanners, CoP's and Peer evaluation (+throw in information literacy)

I'm writing a Literature Review on Formative Feedback and Reflective Practices in an online environment. Our class has also been discussing the vision versus reality of elearning, and the huge chasm between them.

Firstly the talk by Clay Shirky on Social Media.
So disruptive technologies surpass Control, connecting many-to-many and destroy the one-to-one, one-to-many paradigms and replace them with many-to-one and many-to-many connections. This allows our ZPD to be vastly expanded.

Then the disadvantages of Networks and Group Think from James Surowiecki.
Circle Mills are mindless follow-the-no-leader scenario where each link thinks the next link knows what's going on. A follow them home mentality, or if I shut-up then no-one will notice my ignorance until we all see the Emperor's New Clothes scenario. So we need the courage to admit failure, not understanding, or not cover over our weaknesses - all courageous decisions that may not be in our personal interests, but by creating a greater social capital, maybe paradoxically the most direct way to serve ourselves.

Then SNA and the Power of Loose Ties, or boundary spanners within Communities of Practice.
It is the Mavericks, the unreasonable person, that advances our thinking, that helps create a new world shaped by the way we look at it. (We all live in the same universe but inhabit different worlds),

What are the new skills needed in this Networked World? Independent views supported by the skills of information literacy and the higher cognitive functions employed during the process of peer dialogue?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Transformative Learning

Mezirow seems to be using different language to describe the same phenomena Lonnie Athens' does in his process of violentization. I also believe that Bertram Brookes was onto the same thing with his 'fundamental equation of information science', i.e. you've gotta know what somebody already knows to build on it, or address their bias (and yes, we are all biased - I'm not suggesting that teaching is done without an agenda).

I've had my worldview changed over the time I spend studying Knowledge Management. I feel I have new lenses in which to view the world. It's also changed me in the way some of my convictions have been strengthened - and that was done by cognitive dissonance.

You see I was Director of Studies for a very shoddy Registered Training Organisation (RTO - Visa factory) when my first daughter was born. I was torn between being a good provider for my family and being able to provide a quality training environment for my students. How could I mentor my child if I sold out my values? I was literally feeling the cracks inside myself when I came home and shut down, drinking too much and going into a depressive spiral.

Luckily the owner forced me into a situation that made my choice easy. I was told to fire a teacher because she raised an OH&S issue. I walked out there and then, and spent the next six months unemployed, but with my baby daughter bonding. My next job has sent me on the path I am now pursuing, and I am a much happier person, better father, but still require more work on being a better husband (It's those strong convictions again, and not cutting other's the slack they deserve just because they hold views contrary to mine). You can choose your friends, but not your family... Did I really just say that?

So I've experienced by incremental change through study, and a tipping point in my professional life. And I guess although I didn't change direction, I grew and learnt more about myself in the process.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

My current understanding of online pedagogy

Bit late, being week 6 and all, however I was never a quick starter. Life is a marathon...

Firstly, I don't think you can have online pedagogy. This is purely semiotic, because I really find this term offensive and idiotic. I also believe that my eldest child, who started school this year, could learn through online instruction. She doesn't have the requisite skills to 'scaffold' her learning, i.e. knowledge of interfaces, reading, writing, etc. Although I must admit she has been amazing me with her skills navigating Dirtgirl, and other ABC kids sites. We under-estimate so much, and it's true they inhabit a different world to us X gen people.

I have always liked Bertram Brookes' fundamental problem with information science, where he posits that new information plus your existing knowledge creates an incremental change in the structure of that knowledge. I like this because it combines Cognitivism and Constructivism. You can see how you need to have a mind to start with, before you can interact with Vygotsky's ZPD, or Wengers CoP.

And I think that is where online learnings' sweet spot is... Androgogical networking. Social Capital is supported through mutual respect and reciprocity. We learn off each other through sharing and caring. Which is the third leg of the triumvirate of learning, behaviourism.

I also think that technology enables us to use our learning style preferences, to play to our strengths, and to share our knowledge through different information artifacts, be they podcasts, essays, concept maps, or multimedia prototypes.

Gratitude post

I'd like to give thanks for:
  • Beautiful children
  • Loving wife
  • Great game of footy last night at Skilled Park
  • An interesting job
  • A clean car
  • A lovely day
  • Being the youngest in my family
  • Not having to work on a Saturday morning
  • My health
  • My team-mates at the Raiders
  • My neigbours
So much really...

Monday, April 5, 2010

Love my concept maps

For my Masters of Learning and Development I'm combining my two subjects - Assessment and Online Pedagogy (Not fond of the ubiquousness of this term in Higher/Adult education)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Reflections on online studies

Well it's been a bit unstructured really and I'm just starting to get more discipline into my studies.

What has been holding me back?
Starting a new routine is difficult. We have made so many changes that the dust really hasn't settled yet. What are these changes?
  • Relocating from Sydney
  • Setting up a new house
  • Tilly starting school
  • Getting daycare for Evie so I have uninterrupted time to focus on study
  • Starting online studies, finding out how much time I had to devote to courses - dropping two when finally realising that I had over-committed given my responsibilities of:
  • Being the home Dad
  • Finding time for the body (addressing gout) so I am mentally resilient as well as physically fit
  • Organising for my Mother to move here from WA
  • Entertaining guests that come to visit from Sydney, Perth, etc
  • Getting used to Moodle, rather than Blackboard/WebCT
  • Getting to know how the Instructors use the LMS to present their content, idiosyncratic design architecture
Then I also need to read and focus my energies for the online environment, rather than get distracted by glittering lights, inbox messages, etc.

For instance this is a posting for my assessable diary for EDU8114 that I've really only just started in Week 4!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Gratitude and Happiness

I've just read an interesting article in the SMH (link in title) on this Good Friday morn. The paradox of giving is better than receiving is explored in this article, and how the way we see things dictates our thoughts and actions. If it's true people don't trust lawyers, is it because lawyers don't trust people? I think of John Howard as I write that sentence. But perhaps I should be grateful we at least live in a democracy, and that for all of his ideologies that I oppose he did introduce the Family Tax Benefit that allows me now to be a stay at home dad and study while my wife earns a modest income to support us.

So what have I got to be grateful for today?
  • Two beautiful children (even if the little one is a Gestapo officer reincarnate, she does makes us laugh with her authoritarian nature)
  • A loving wife with a beautiful, caring nature
  • A lovely house near the beach and abundant natural gifts of the Northern Rivers of NSW
  • That I'm losing weight
  • That I have a stimulating career ahead in the emerging field of elearning
  • That we have good friends from Sydney coming to stay with us, and more on the way
  • That I have so much room to improve it's hard to fail
  • That my Mum will soon be closer to us and her grandchildren
It's nice to start your day with a smile on your face...