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Would you know a digital scholar if you met one? Are we there yet?

Martin Weller, in ‘The Digital Scholar’ looks forward to the time when there will be such people – a decade hence. I suggested, in a review of his book in Amazon, that ’10 months’ was more likely given the pace of change, to which he replied that academia was rather slow to change. That was 18 months ago.

Are there any ‘digital scholars’ out there?

How do we spot them? Is there a field guide for such things?

I can think of a few candidates I have come across, people learning entirely online for a myriad of reasons and developing scholarly skills without, or only rarely, using a library, attending a tutorial or lecture, or sitting an exam. But can they ever be considered ‘scholarly’ without such things? They’ll need to collaborate with colleagues and conduct research.

On verra.

How do you split your time online? Visual expression of my ‘personal learning environment’ PLE

Fig. 1. The latest expression of how I learn on line. February 2013

This has gone through various forms and ought to included learning across all platforms – I get books from Amazon where the eBook doesn’t exist, I use sheets of A1 paper on a drawing board to sketch out ideas and plans, I use the iPad as a digital camera and use a digital SLR too.

Fig. 2. How it was

The difference? Even more reading and writing.

Fig. 3. Earlier still. A year ago?

A more realistic expression of my learning environment or context i.e. taking on board multiple influences

Fig. 4. A difference expression of the same thing – centred on e-learning

The Digtal Scholar (2011) Martin Weller

Alerted by a Tweat, I bought the book in minutes.

There’s never a better time than ‘Now’.

Purchase your copy here.

Unwell, so having it read to me on the Kindle, while taking notes on an iPad.

When I wander off I pick up the thread on the iPhone.

It’s surprising how much can be read while the kettle boils.

In due course and I’ll have my very own 3,000 word interpretation of this 50,000+ worder, far more once I’ve added my notes, thoughts additional references and illustrations.

My web 2.0 sensibilities are for the online equivalent of the Illustrated, hardback coffee-table book, with video and podcasts, interactivity and links.

I’d have Dion Hinchcliffe‘s graphic designer do some colour diagrams, Steven Appleby provide some cartoons, while I would interview the author for YouTube and set it all to something suitably camp like Mike Oldfield with a Roger Dean poster decorating the set.

When do we get the webinar?

And I pre-emptivelly wrote a review in Amazon on the basis of the first two chapters, hearing the author debate and speak the subject and reading his blog (as well as his earlier book that he brings up as a way of looking at how things have changed since 2006).

P.S. Buy you e-book version now then return here to discuss, or find you in Linked in or Google+ …

Or for some blended learning if you live near Lewes, East Sussex, over at the Needlemakers for a coffee.

My ‘take-aways’ so far:

  • Digital, Networked, Open.
  • Fast, cheap and out of control.
  • Why students choose one university over another.
  • The ‘good enough’ revolution. Wired (2009)
  • The unpredicatable use of technology.
  • (and Martin Weller‘s daughter, he writes on page one, didn’t think, based on his ‘ellevator pitch’ that the book would do very well. This, with a bit of ‘airplay’ on the blogosphere, need not be the case. Get to work tweeting, noting, sharing, putting into Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, Xing and Viadeo. I can’t see a movie in it though).
 

 

Everything digital is random

Think of this as a leaf

We’ve gone through an era of learning as ‘trees of knowledge’; now all the leaves have blown off. With everything tagged and searchable you can still find what you need on the ground.

This is the idea

I buy this, more or less. I’d been thinking of it like this for some years, but today I’ve moved on – it doesn’t work.

It doesn’t work given that the leaves can be any asset that can be digitised. With the leaf analogy we have to set parameters and have types of leaf (even across plant species, or across the cycle of seasons in temperate climate, there isn’t scale or variety that is adequate).

I question digital data or aggregations of binary code being given an organic reference

I prefer to think of the Internet and the World Wide Web as an ocean and ‘stuff’ as water molecules.With this analogy we can throw in the water-cycle, icebergs and glaciers, clouds, rivers and tributaries … snow and storms.

Everything is random

It is until you give it value, until you file or tag it. If you neither file nor tag, then your digital ‘stuff’ may was well not exist, not for sharing at least. How will you find it?

‘Everything is miscellaneous’ (David Weinberger) is a worthwhile read: cover-to-cover.

‘The best digital strategy is to dump everything into one large miscellaneous pile and leave it to the machines to find exactly the table settings we need for tonight’s dinner’. p85

I was reading ‘The Cluetrain Manifesto’ that includes a David Weinberger contribution too – I loathe it (for now). I’ll keep wondering why:

Because it reads like a collection of smalmy articles for ‘Esquire’ ?

Because it invites dialogue but in print form there is none – like going to a party and only being in a position to listen to the guys who have had too much to drink and think they know it all.

Harsh?

(This may be a love/hate relationship developing here … it challenges me to return to the text. Which reminds me, it was intriguing to find the OU Library copy of the book full of pencil mark highlights and notes. See, a reader couldn’t resist i.e. it isn’t content for print).

Weinberger imagined what it would be like to be sitting in a new home with 157 moving boxes all labelled ‘miscellaneous’ – (87) Sound like a great way to get out of a house, just box it up and go. I even like the random nature of what you then find yourself with.

Where is the role of serendipity in this searchable and tagged world of ours?

Thinking allowed?

(50366)

If I can digitise what I see and say, what next?

It pays to buy quality

22 years ago I bought a set of lenses for my Minolta SLR. Eight years ago I mothballed the camera and lenses.

Since Christmas I’ve been armed with a Sony Alpha digital SLR body: my favourite lenses have given a new lease of life. Here they are:

These are my favourite lenses

A fish eye for interiors that covers the space you inhabit, the warping of lines irrelevant to grabbing the space. A fun way too to get a bunch of people huggled around the lens. And a long lens to get close … without getting close. And not so massive that I look like the Paparazzi I am never.

Who needs words with a simple set up like this?

The next step will be a body that records Hi-Def video … and after that digital 35mm (Sony again).

  • And an underwater housing.
  • And a Steadicam.
  • And, of course, a ‘Jonathan Jib.’

How we read and contribute online

Once you have the definitive response to a fact, something composed as a wiki that has been thoroughly reviewed I’d then like to see this thinking, initially just in words, animated via a slider, the kind of volume control we’re used to seeing, only this, instead of increasing the volume of sound, increases the number of words.

In this way you choose your moment to read a bit, a bit more, or a lot, the whole thing, and or everything (in theory) that went through the author’s mind when they wrote their chapter/boo/report in the first place by having not just the links, but the references open and ready to read in an instance.

Indulgent?

The expert mind does this anyway. By the time you’ve read so extensively on a subject that you hear its authors speaking, you tap into a form of this. You could at any moment offer a summary, or talk for hours on ‘your’ subject.

I would like this opportunity from the start, from the point of ignorance, to nudge back and forth, to ‘rock n roll’ as a soundengineer would put it, finding the point to cut a sound track, the ‘sweet point’ for where I was at, where enough was being said to engage me … or, were I about to alight from a train, a bitsize thought on which I could chew ’til the opportunity arose to indulge and nudge this ‘text volume control’ along the scale.

Now think of this as a slice in a pie.


Just a thought.
 

Open it out and you migrate away from text alone to include stills, video and sound. For example, the image-based expression of this concept, and a particular issue/idea/fact/report, begins with a single image, like a book cover, or TV title sequence … as you run along our ‘volume control’ the number and range of images expands.

Dear, dear, e-diary won’t you hear my problems

‘I’ve been a bad, bad, girl’, continues  Pink from her song ‘dear, dear diary’.

There’s a piece in the New Scientist this last fortnight about the merits of not only keeping a diary, but digitizing every moment of your waking life. The piece opens with the suggestion that at this time of year everyone is buying a diary; they’re not. Most of us buy a diary in August as an academic diary if you have anything to do with education (student, teacher, academic or parent) is a much more logical thing to have to carry you through the school year. In any case, who cares where you start your diary if its digital or even a Filofax insert.

There’s criticism of the Five Year Diary format, those diaries with a few lines to cover the day’s events – where did Twitter get their idea from. A few lines every day is far easier to achieve than a page or more per day. I should know, I’ve been at it long enough.

Parameters, as any writer will know, matter.

They contain what might otherwise be a stream of never ending unconsciousness

Deadlines and word counts are helpful.

I wish I could do the research against the clock too. I have to give X hours to each topic, I would happily give x weeks and a some stage in that week I’d see I could press on for a month. I get this way when my curiosity is taking me off on a mental ramble.

The idea of keeping an objective, digitally record of everything you do does intrigue, not because of the data it captures, though I’ve had a few years that would be fun to re-live, but what it misses out. This is the idea of a researcher at Micrsoft who is recording his every action (and motion). However, the process misses out how you feel, and what you think.

And would have to be deactivated going through airports, going to the bank or Post Office, swimming with the kids in a public pool … there’s quite a list.

‘It’s a matter of love,’ wrote Nabakov, ‘the more you love a memory the stronger than memory becomes.’

How is such strength afforded a memory that remains on the surface of the mind, as there is no need to make the mental effort to embedded it, or to recall it, other than watching it over like a movie. A very bad, very dull, badly lit and performed movie.

‘By having everything in e-memory you don’t have to remember anymore.’

On the contrary by short-circuiting the implicit, instinctive natural memories making myelination process of the brain you are replacing something fluid and static, albeit it a multitude of snapshots.

H800: 22 Reflecting on H800

How goes it?

Like a roller-coaster, merrily going along, like the C4 ident:through the loops of a roller-coaster though the shapes I see are ‘H’ and ‘800’ and ‘807’ and ‘808’ as I pass by.

Then I switch track and venue and find myself on the Mouse-Trap. Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Here there is a rise and dip where you are convinced you will hit a girder. I just did, metaphorically speaking. (Diary entry, August 1980)

Ilness changes things

Nothing more than a rubbish cold made uncomfortable by asthma.

It is a set back of sorts. I can sleep and read. But the spark has gone (for now).

To use a different analogy, if I often think of my mind as a Catherine-wheel, this one has come off and landed in a muddy-puddle.

We’re in the week of metaphors for learning.

I can draw on any notes I’ve taken on this here and in my eportfolio. This is more than an aide-memoire, it favours the choices I made before at the expense of anything new. So I widen my search. The OU Library offers hundreds of thousands of references in relation to ‘Education’ and ‘Metaphor’ going back to 1643.

Gathering my thoughts will take time.

There are 26 pages (nearly 12,000 words) to read (course intro, resources). Far, far more if I even start to consider ANY of the additional references or reading.

Give me three months. We have, or I have left, three days.

My approach is simple. Tackle it on the surface, drill into an author or topic that is of interest and expect to pick up on and pick through this again later this module, later this year … or next existence. (I believe in multiple existences and flux. We are transitory and changing)

As well as tapping into the OU Blog and e-portfolio the blog I’ve kept since 1999 might have something to say on metaphor. If I care to I might even rummage through A’Level English Literature folders from the 1970s, just to trigger something. Engaged and enabled by Vygotsky and others in relation to memory and learning I value this ability to tap into past thoughts/studying with ease.

(Ought others to be sold the idea of a life-long blog?)

Otherwise I have gone from learn to swim in the training pool, to swimming lengths in the main pool … to observer/coach who will participate, but has a towel over his shoulders and is looking around.

The next pool? Where is that?

I’m not the same person who set out on this journey 12 months ago.

On the other hand, having a Kindle makes me feel more like a teenager swotting for an Oxbridge examination; I like having several books on the go. I’ll be through ‘Educational Psychology (Vygotsky) by the end of the day and am already picking through and adding to copious notes.

Piaget next?

Then a little kite-boarding as I head away from the swimming pool that has been an MA with the OU?!

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