Posts Tagged ‘education’

Dan’s Ignite Presentation

July 28, 2009

Once again Dan Meyer has summed up one of a key insights into teaching in a pithy statement “Be less helpful!” I’m not sure what I can really add to it as its really the same inside as the one behind guided inquiry teaching, problem based learning, and even the ideas expressed by AP workshop presenters. His restatement is terrific and is something that I at least, and possible others, need to reconnect with every so often. If I can get an embeddable link I’m going to put it on my permanent videos page.

On the other hand I think I can usefully comment on the ending of his presentation. His audience is made up of open source aficionados and coders so his ending plea is quite appropriate but unneeded. We already have collaborative spaces for sharing teaching methods, teaching materials, and teachable media. Dan’s blog is a great example. We have blogs, Nings, wikis, forums, mailing lists (how quaint but effective), various social networking sites, and multiple author blogs if the idea is to get away from one person directing the conversation. Do we really need another site or app or communication method? We do need more interactivity between social groupings but that is not a technological problem.

Of course maybe I’m not getting his message. From Dan’s response in one comment I suspect the distinction is that he want’s collaboration on the media itself while I would be satisfied with expanding the use of collaboration about the media and easy access to the media. In particular I see little purpose in editing some media in such a way that the original is lost. If I have an edit that I believe is of general utility I should upload mine with citation to yours as the inspiration and let people compare, contrast, and critic them in context. Again, the value seems to be in building a useful size community not in a new technological fix.

Alternately he might be referring to the fact that most online communication still has to go through a text medium. The idea of being able to easily add comments to a post via audio or video might be terrific. If that’s what you were meaning then my hat is off to you Dan.


The futures so bright I’ve got to wear …

July 17, 2009


I am very much in favor of both the increasing access to information and increasing indexing/searchability of information that digital data and an interconnected web provides. As I posted earlier I generally am in favor of moving away from physical books and towards electronic ones that can incorporate linking, media, and annotation as well as potential cost savings. Similarly, I’d have to say that the technological tool that I would buy in a heart beat is the child of a Kindle and a Fujitsu 6012 with 4G access. The wearable computer in its different incarnations (notably Dr. Mann’s always on computer and a computer aided sixth sense) as well as many others are also interesting. For various reasons I’m never going to be on the bleeding edge of technology but I certainly don’t oppose it. Yet some outside discussion has brought up the fact that this earlier post is a fairly pessimistic view of the future of electronic texts.. I have to agree that it is.

So I’m stuck trying to figure out my pessimism. Most likely its really just an overreaction to some of the memes floating around. The overload of “blogging is dead/journalism is dead” that I was running across last week. While its an interesting discussion it tends to focus on the news aspect of the web which is, naturally enough, a segment that is dominated by a quick turn around time, always on mentality. Add a healthy, or not, dose of sites conflating the ideas of blogs and marketing as if the only reason to blog is to make money on it (either currently through ads or by marketing your “brand” and attracting business). Finally season generously with edtech blogs with an almost religious fervor concerning the benefits of web2.0 in education without much of a concern about anything other than getting people using the web2.0.

Even if I don’t have a smartphone (or even a pda) I think the trend towards more and more accessible and indexed data is a very big win overall. But while I feel that the pessimism of my earlier post was rather a passing mood there are certainly questions. For right now I’m going to let this trail off with a list of thoughts and little commentary.

– Why has Wikipedia avoided the tragedy of the commons while others (smaller) wikis often seem to suffer from it and wither away do to no one really adding significant content?
– Digital sharecropping (and perhaps the related digital subsistence farming). What does the Freemium model bring to a discussion of education?
– I wish I could still find a reference to the data I saw that showed the rate of increase of YouTube content increasing over time even as it becomes harder to reach any specific level of exposure/fame/hits/ success. Plus the related idea of average quality going down while total content increases.

* – the idea for the title of this post and the intro picture popped into my head through the association with digital data and digital lives. I am well aware of the grim and ironic nature of the song. There is no intentional reference to any digital-media-is-the-end-of-the-world type of theme!