The Art of Knowledge
Yeah, I feel you on all that stuff. Go on with your bad self. Man, this is really fun to have a cooperative blog, I have to say. It's almost like we are in Ghostbusters, and they are like, "Well, we should be fine if we don't cross streams" on our on our ghost shooter pack things. I forget what they are called. But now, we're crossing streams, so who knows whats going to happen. And thats great.
Anyway, yeah see, I realize that this is where you are moving in like a career direction, so I think its entirely appropriate for you to tackle it from the kind of industry analysis perspective that you are. There was a point where I was really into the idea of doing this for work for a long long time, and like, I don't know, making all these things really happen. But I'm kind of not in that place right now, I feel too restless to travel and sleep on floors in weird cities and stuff. But I think it's really important for me to exercise this part of my mind, and who knows, maybe after I get all my ya-ya's out, I'll come back to it, and we'll get all our Harvard buddies to throw down a bunch of capital and then.... oh wait a minute. Hehe.
Okay, back to the matter at hand. A couple things I think are interesting. I remember a few weeks back when I was reading about that John Taylor Gatto guy, he said something to the effect of: it only takes 50 hours of class time to teach kids all the basics of reading, writing and math. He goes on to say all the rest of the time is spent enforcing social management lessons. Shit like that. But I think he's dead on about what he's getting at. That it only takes a ridiculously small amount of time to teach your basic core skill set. I found this to be definitely true. Where, I would give maybe 1 or 2 forty minute lectures to my classes at Catalyst, and then they would exercise those skills the rest of the day, gradually combining all the base elements, until the problems became more conceptual and less skill driven, because the skills had start to become second nature to them. I think this sort of progression is extremely important to think about, and I feel like I'm going to come back to it again and again.
Related to this, I think is, you know how they say "shes reading at a sixth grade level", and if shes in like 3rd grade, that sounds really impressive, but if youre in 9th grade, that makes her sound dumb. I think that sort of thing is all bullshit, because I think that sort of tiered learning and evaluation based on artificial factors like age, totally dont account for important differences in kids. Not a fully formed point in my head yet, but I know somehow this applies, so I'm just throwing it down for the record.
Now this is important
Okay, so I have this author who I really like who writes about learning, and I think you would do well to read a bunch of stuff by her. She studied psychology I think, has a PhD, and basically invented this reading system where she can teach basically anyone to read, with 0% occurrence of dyslexia, even in people with severe mental handicaps or retardation. I'm gonna toss in a few links for you below (they are all nice and short and bite sized).
She writes all about human vs. machine intelligence, and how our traditional educational system was geared towards creating minds which could retain facts and act as databases basically. Just look at standardized tests and quiz shows, which are just pure data recall. But, since we have created computers and started integrating them into our lives in meaningful and useful ways, we have functionally externalized that part of the human mind which we were promoting with this style of learning system.
I'm extrapolating from her work a little bit, but basically, she asks us, what is the use of continuing this sort of data recall based learning system, now that we have computers, which are a billion times more effective at storing and retrieving information in this manner. She also talks a good bit about ADD and shit like that, which she posits is basically the mind's natural reaction against being inundated with too many facts without enough context, and without it being done in a human-centric kind of way.
Alright, thats all for now. I oughta go pretend to do some work.
Link posted by tim boucher : 11:52 AM
I hate to admit that I am little intimidated by the presence of Tim. It's like you play for this baseball team and then this new big guy shows up and just hits bombs out of the park...but you know it's good beacuse he's helping your team and stuff...He is so much better at putting abstarct thoughts into words than I. I will try not to come off as some sort of quack, but I think in this realm I can hold my own. Now if we start talking about the existentialism of the Universe of anything that has to do with socail behavior, well then if Tim talks...I just listen and hope to learn...but it's nice to know I can hit a ping pong ball or two here.
I would also love to get more people on here...so if you read this and you are down I'll let you come on here and play if you want...just hit me up...I wish my dad didn't have tubes in his lungs...he would rule at this
But, yeah acronyms do suck but for some reason in technology/elearning they are necessary when doing research. I think I wrote that I hate when companies make up their own jargon just to impress people or weed out the underlings that may not understand everything. I hate them for that, but at the same time they are on the forefront of a lot of things that will have to be taken into consideration or incorporated to any project we undertake. So to understand them and speak their language, to me, seems rather vital.
Catalyst to me was a great place to work it was just so congested by small company problems and day to day stuff that it became some sort of a pressure cooker to get things done but at a slow pace, whether right or wrong. I think you and I made a lot of progress there from the first days I arrived when we did power point lessons for TWO days! But, I think the concept and group was great and the success of the company will be met in time and fulfilled by the people currently runing it...i'd love to hear Oliver's or Doug's take on it...but I assume Oliver will be rather politically correct in this reguard, like a smart lawyer would and Doug may have mixed views but may be more honest.
Anyway, yeah that's sort of what I want to do. Basically, there is one big huge human capital crisis out there and I don't think anybody really has the down to earth skills to solve it. Everything I am reading is all blooms taxonomy run off made into techno jargon. Like they just took a text book made it round, gave it some meta tags, through it into a computer, and said "oohh look it's now something called elearning". I don't really buy that. I sort of think that to teach people to learn you first must unteach them that they can't accomplish certain things, then teach them the propietary language (i think this is largely overlooked),then show them the tools and how to use them, then apply the same methodoligy of what works for that person over and over again to different arenas. Obvioulsy, for us to sort of work things out we have to work in what we currently know and understand in order to save time and explore the medium, which is technology, and coincenditally where the largest human capital issues seem to be. I like to think of the model as organic...when I think of what to build and I think organic it always puts me back on track from the big cold stuff I read from everyone else.
Basically the themes that I have worked out...and be patient with me here...since "elearning" has now become a big industry player is to first asess what the big boys are doing and then poke holes in it in order to help formulate the real answers...because I really don't think they have them...that's where I want to start...formulating theories and attempting to prove them or show that they are already attempting to be proven...that sounds futile but it isn't...not to me...if you aren't down with the grunt work...i'm always happy to do that and I have plowed through 10 white papers this week and plan on putting all my notes up...the good things about the players is that there aren't many and the ones that do exist...seem to be...well excuse me here Dr. Clark, a joke! The next step afetr research and having a solid overview of the market is to formulate a model based on the research. To sort of ssay, "Ok well that's cool but this makes sense." BUt that's a little way off...I think first it would be wonderful if you and I could just sort of hash out all the different ideas into some sort of common hypothesis that identifies, curriculum to be used, medium method, time of program, ideal incubating situation, wanted results, etc...
But, it's wondeful that you posted and in fact I don't really want you to do any grudge work unless you feel it thrills you, which I know it doesn't, I sort of love that you are that guy that just comes into the game and hits a homerun and we win. That's what you are great at, saying "whoa whoa...that's crap. This is better..." And then bringing new stuff to light. I also don't want to stifle or bore you by the lame stuff I have to do to really understand everything...I feel your holistic approach but know that this is really what I want to do...so to understand the industry is important to me...it's like if you sell hammers you want to know why the other guys hammer is cool too...because well we aren't rich guys so we can't just go start a company or call our Harvard buddies to give us a couple hundred grand you know...plus information is good...
I'll post more tomorrow after I get my notes straight...it's great to have you in here!
Link posted by JVMM : 1:18 AM
Acronyms are boring
Hi Bret. All your acronyms make me want to cry. I guess you gotta read what people are doing though, and it seems like people are using acronyms. Which is too bad. Anyway, yeah, for me, all the acronyms are too much, but you should conduct your research however makes sense to you. That's why we were a good team, cause our skills and understandings came at this from two very different sides.
I've been thinking a bit lately about just what the differences are in mine and your approaches to this. You seem to be very business minded, and driven to figure out from jump how to apply it in the real world. Whereas, in my mind, I feel like a lot of that sort of shit will just fall into place once the feel and flow of all the concepts are worked out.
So your goal with all this is what precisely? You basically want the same thing that we wanted when we were at Catalyst, right? Which, in a businessy kind of lingo might go something like "assist members of a mobile workforce to transit into knowledge-based business roles." I don't know. I think I could come up with a better little descriptive phrase than that, but it's late, so whatever.
Anyway, right. What we wanted was to be able to take anybody, basically, your average to above average computer user and internet surfer, and turn them into somebody that could quickly learn and adapt to any new computer/knowledge system that they were placed into, and succeed with minimial training and supervision.
Knowledge mercenaries basically. With a mutable core skill set, such as, for example "web programming" or "networking". And through delivering this basic skill set, they would also be taught what skills transit across all genres of work in a knowledge based economy.
Blah blah, something something. Help me fill in some of the general themes that we are going to be talking about here, for the viewers who are going to be joining us late in the broadcast.
And I hope all this computer babble doesn't start cooking my brain, and using up its precious resources which would otherwise be spent on my occult investigations...
Link posted by tim boucher : 12:28 AM
Cisco - Reusable Learning Object Strategy
I have just started reading about the RLO's and the seem pretty interesting. I don't think it really has any of the answers when it comes to retention or retooling absolutely but I think it's a nice corporate model. When I think of the scope of the project, I imagine retolling individuals with computer knowledge but no formal training, I envision base cognitive skills that shoudl be molded. When I read this I merely got the impression that the retooling only happens within a sector (i.e. Your HR department becomes more efficient in a new system or a new corporate initiative). While this is absolutely necessary I don't think it really adresses the root of any human capital issues. Fortunately, it does have value as a vehicle for delivering information. Herea re my notes:
- Metadata is essential to any LMS system. XML, or the SCORM initiative being used by the apparent leaders AICC and DoD. Having information meta'd correctly becomes essential to the retrieval and application aspects of a true LMS/KMS.
- IEEE has a definition of a learning object under the IEEE P1482.12
- Ruth Clark seems to be a major player in the RLO arena. Her website is horrible though. Making me doubt her viability. I hate when smart people have lazy websites.
- She also developed the 7 step program for writing and implementing learning objects.
- Grannular analysis - analyzes the required skill needed, identifies perfomrance outcomes, develops reports on how the learner has changed
- Design and Mine - Mining previous solutions or self-inundated solution to solve the problem. Needs metadata...this sounds like the most interesting part but I have two problems with it...one - self-identified problems are a horrible way to arise change. Initiative is not necessarily a key factor in elearning that can be assumed. Two - I like the idea that the user will be learning in a medium that is best suited to them. Cisco is a little blind when it comes to mediums. I can imagine their set up as really boring already.
- Write Learning Objectives - does 2 things
1. Makes content easier to write (how?)
2. Objective keeps the learner on a track to succeed
I like the idea of the tack. I think if someone knows the exact end goal of what is to be attanined then the road becomes muich clearer and more self-constructed. In that Freshman seminar paper they mentioned that retention of students is highly hieghtened by clearly defined goals. I think that's extrememly important.
- Identify the Cognitive Level - What the learner is required to remember and use.
- Classify Learning objects - Categorize objects as a concept, fact, procedure, process, principle. If you look at the pdf you will find a nice table of the definitions of all these. This was somewhat helpful.
- Identify the Primary Learning Approach - Receptive, directive, guided discovery, exploratory. Here is where teh paper almost started cooking but they gave me a chart that made it seemed of less importaance. I will delve into this a little later.
- Sign off on the Design - You need a DDD (detailed Design Document) that explains the scope, what has been builtm resources. Basically a blueprint.
All this seemed a little plastic. But hell it's Cisco so it's gonna be very dry but what I wrote about it was. "What if the final goals are different? My final goal is for them to teach themselves not only the system or the skill but the deisgning of their own system. Therefore teh mechanism takes an organic/bio approach. The user/database/KMS can keep track of thow they got to the terminal goal (obvioulsy different for each user) and then reutilizes that to achieve future objectives. The selling key is that the mechanism can change with them to take advantage of inherent strengths.
- Grannular analysis - analyzes the required skill needed, identifies perfomrance outcomes, develops reports on how the learner has changed
- A vast network app is needed to deliver a proper LMS. Is this what Tim had in mind when he talked about Friendster, I need to research more LMS and KMS systems that actually work.
- Maintaining the system for life is extremely important. Makeing the user aware of changes or new technologies or protocol actively and not passively is essential. Making them make themeselves aware is utopic.
- Methods of delivery - You are going to need a vaste assortment of delivery methods to implement such a vision. Assuming that people are always on a network or online can limit you.
Link posted by JVMM : 11:10 PM
I read two articles today in between handing out little tests and grading them. The first article talks about retention amongst first year students in college. It wasn't a real worth while read. The only real thing I got out it was that we are simply making too many excuses for why kids are stupid and that we really don't understand college kids. I could have cared less about peer groups and communities that I can do my homework with when I was in school. But, that's not the point here. I mean it's a good idea and all to make communities and block together groups of classes with the same kids to enhance callaboration but I mean the article just became some whiney liberal approach to retaining students. And I thought it was about like retaining information. Nope, it's about retianing students into their money grubbing rediculous organization known as college. So I saved you some time by saying don't read this crap.
The second article talked about the 4 major classifications of students, psycholigically. It's kind of interesting. I mean it all sounded like some weird crutch for not pushing people enough. I think self-motivation is a huge factor in success. Learning needs to be delivered as a success waiting to happen not just a vehicle that will porribly get you there. Say, "Succeed in this and you will succeed in all". I also have issues with white papers that just tell me how great they are., and this one does that. But the psycho approach portion of the paper was solid and somehwat revealing it puts people into 4 categories and then breaks them down into specific traits for each category (sounded a little bunk but interesting non the less). I'll put this on into the barrel when I start building out the site.
Link posted by JVMM : 4:13 AM
Replying to Tim
...but anyway I love what you are saying and we have said it all before...I think group paradigms are essential but not necessarily the only way they should learn...there has to be individual assesment on some level and groups are sometimes more coincidently put together than strategically...I think the group paradigm can work most effectively in a large cluster of students not just in a small class of people where maybe one person (Mann) would dominate or undermind other people (Dip and Karen). Anyway...I love it all...but here let me give you my direct notes from when I printed out your mail...
Tim - "Emphasis placed on Individual learning = bad"
Me - "I think that the organic schools that use group models (Edison schools in Philly and some Milken schools in Texas and Cali) are a great idea. They have shown huge beneficial results from the group paradigm. The problem they run into is dependancy and sometimes complacency. I also don't think the group paradigm would work with adults too well. I think it should be a late stage addition to their retooling process. I think emphasis on textbook learning is horribly wrong much like evryone else does...even the teachers and students using it now. There are obviously better ways to learn but there is a social construct that exists between teacher and student...some thrive and some fail...the question is with the group paradigm...will it merely flip the failing to thriving or will some of those teacher's pets not benefit as greatly from a new system"
Tim - "INTERESTING AND FUN"
Me - "Everyone dreams of the eutopic state of everything. You know where grandpa is running in the poppey field while chidren sprinkle cool water on his ass, but I don't really see that when it comes to the new knowledge environment. I see increased freedom and less restrictions when it comes to gathering and applying information but I also see more stringent technology and more formal specs and regulations. Humans are humans and we just can't breed the inherent evil out of us yet. Too much freedom in the realm of learning can be a bad thing. Do you remember what the first curve on the old Boucher/Holmes curriculum was...professionalism...and that's no fun but it is essential! Some people see gardens of joyful slumber in their perfect system I see a Matrix with competetive games and smart people moving really fast"
Tim -"Learn as much from fellow students"
Me - "I think the source of all immediate information should come from a node (I love that by the way...no teachers just nodes...you are the coolest wordsmith!) and not from peers. Information can be wrong and waste time. Gossip or trends tend to be more luxurious and flashy than doing ELSE IF statements to figure out how a manufacturing line works. I love the idea...but I don't love the possible reprocussions of dis/useless information."
Me - "Yeah cheating is essential I think. The more you can rip and tear from something the more you learn anyway, especially in computers. Hackers made Java so that they could just be lazy and cheat. That's what programming is and I think that's why programmers are usually a class of underachievers or old rejects, because programming is essentially trying to do something with minimal effort. Now that you have all these boyscout bastards in here doing programming it has become even better. When you combine the thought process of the programmer, which is essentially "What is the fastest way from A to B?", and combine with it Johnny Gungho's, "How do I make the boss or Joe Schmoe happy?" you can come up with some sort of wonderful product like Coldfusion, .NET, Photoshop. All these products stem from consumerism not the programmer. I mean look at what programmers love, green and black screens, lots of confusing stuff that apparently only "they" can decipher...now that's not coldfusion my friend. Remember what programming used to be...fortran, perl, TCP/Ip and now look at what it is...happy smiley icons and drag and drop...wonderful.~! But with these new products cheating becomes even easier because people are just giving it away...I want that guy who knows how to find it, implement it, use it, and then explain it. That's what I want to teach and cheating gets you the first three...education gets you the last one"
Link posted by JVMM : 2:33 AM
Cisco Is So Damn Cool
So I read this yesterday. It was ok. I have a ton of notes on it but unfortunately I just checked and I left them at home. They make some nice parallels to Blooms and they have an interesting approach to structure and retention. I think if I had read this 2 years ago and had dedicated my time in a more structured manner I could have really accomplished something. I'll have some bnotes on it and other stuff by Wednsesday. Today I am going to gather more white papers to sort through and try to create a reasonable architecture to my website that can accomodate the information coming forth. Oh by the way Cisco is SOOOOOOOOOOOO Damn Cool (and oddly evil)!
Link posted by JVMM : 12:25 AM
From Tim Boucher :: Reguarding friendster and it's usefulness
basically, imagine this:
you are teaching some course online. your group of friends, in this case, might be your group of students in the class. you would have tools at your disposal obviously besides this - probably a weblog for the course, and some kind of document management system, bulletin board, and i dont know. other shit. then, all the students in your class would have access to your blog, your documents, etc. but, in turn, each of them would have their own blog, resource list, documents, whatever. the idea I was thinking here, is that the teacher acts as the leader - remember me talking about knowledge mapping? a concept where the teacher acts as a guide, helping a group figure out what they already know, what they need to know, and steps to get there. and then, the class works together and individually to fill those gaps.
i think one of the big errors in most educational structures is the emphasis placed on individual learning. i think traditional thinking dictates that the student learns strictly from the teacher and the textbook, and only what the teacher designates within that text book. this forces the student into a framework of retaining information from the textbook, and it forces the teacher into the framework of only being able to assess a student on information they have retained from the text book.
im thinking this friendster model is great, because emphasizes connective networks - socially, and could be adapted to be about connective knowledge systems. they fit hand in hand i think. you mentioned something in your weblog about how it might be good for aggregating interest groups and stuff. which is definitely a key factor. like the whole point why friendster is getting popular is (1) that it facilitates social networks, and (2) that it allows people to congregate around topics and location. this makes it INTERESTING and FUN on some level. i think NONE of the other distance learning things i have seen take either of those into account at all. I signed up for blackboard.com last night as an instructor, and it was just stupid and chinsy. plastic, like you said. it wouldnt make anyone want to learn or do anything.
also, what i was getting at before. i like the idea of network learning, because it is decentralized. like, imagine that a teacher is not a hierarchical leader so much as they would be in a classroom setting, but a node in a network. they are focal points, from which radiate other points in the network - students. everyone in the network is an autonomous unit - that is to say, you will be able to learn as much from fellow students as you will from teachers.
it seems like learning from other students is usually frowned on traditionally. hence, the fact that cheating is seen so negatively. but really, cheating is naturally and intelligent, because you are figuring out how individual units can operate effectively towards achieving a specific goal. you figure out the strengths and weaknesses of a system, and then figure out how to exploit them towards achieving that goal. i think its no coincidence that your brain made you write about how much you learned from cheating in that weblog entry.
a few months before i left catalyst, i had succeeded in creating what i think was a near perfect classroom/office management environment. in the early stages, i worked closely with students to make sure everyone achieved basic skills. hm, i have a diagram i made about this somewhere. ill have to check. once they mastered basics, i immediately backed off from them, and started giving them conceptual puzzles to solve with those skills. by the time classes reached an advanced level, i had them operating almost completely autonomously from me. i would be able to walk into a class, discuss with them what they needed to do, conceptual building blocks of how to do it, and then let them work together to solve the problem. it was completely solid, because from the start, it trained them to think independtly from me, and work together with each other as resources and shit like that. i know you know all this, but im just refreshing our memories, cause its been a while since i thought about this stuff.
anyway, yeah, we should get back into writing each other about this shit. feel free to post whatever you want from my letters to your site, if you want to start that special educational section, like you were talking about.
Link posted by JVMM : 9:48 PM
This is a test...and since I hate when people just put "This is a test" I guess I'll explain what I plan to do here. This will be my blog for collaborative talk about education and the new frontier that a number of people I know hope to create. They will be adding and I will be adding. Since my Dad, my patriarchal informatio figure, is out of commission it may take me a while to get my info straight so bare with me. This is going to be great!
Link posted by JVMM : 9:46 PM