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Visual expressions of Open Learning

PART ONE

 Sequence showing my conceptions of the shift in learning.

From traditional top down, to horizontal and collaborative and what’s goes in in the human brain – the interaction between different parts of the brain.

However, whilst this might be an expression of traditional classroom based teaching, through to collaborative Web 1.0 and the semantic Web 2.o as I have illustrated before, the reality is that all of these approaches are going on simultaneously: we still have, and benefit from top down learning – being told or shown stuff, there is collaborative learning, more so in certain subjects.

The second line suggests how things are changing: traditional learning being tipped on its head and on its side or at various angles as an institution, or policy changes, due to the influence of the teacher or because of the subject.

Horizontal learning from siblings, friends, family and extended family – always there in the past goes into hyper-mode as we can connect with ease with many of these people making every day like a family event if you so choose, following and joining in with the antics of others or sharing thoughts on school and life. I should add unconscious learning too – asleep, that sorting process we go through when we dream.

I doubt, from what I am coming to understand about neuroscience, that activity in the brains is greatly different or increased courtesy of the Internet or that stimulation has increased – this is for various reasons: our brain gets bored with the familiar, we turn off, we filter, we select. There is a limit to how much can be process. We give up other things to engage online – though I wouldn’t think giving up ogling at the TV all evening is any loss – the average viewing in the UK is 4 hours a day? Really!!

Open Learning is the last image in the bottom right hand corner – a lot going on, a good deal of connectivity.

But not less perhaps than living in a close, frenetic, village community – more akin to how we lived thousands of years ago with the world at our doorstep rather than our being squirreled away as we now are.

Traditional learning

Informal learning (circles look good, or a hub)

Neuroscience for Dummies (a great intro to the subject, I recommend it!)

Put it all together – as your brain does in sleep, and as occurs anyway as you daydream in class or have a parent help you with homework … 

Open Learn is kindle in the fire … it stokes it up, motivating, demotivating and distracting. Key is the continued connectivity to friends and family wherever they may be. That ‘hub’ of activity you may get after a family holiday or gathering can be with you in your pocket to support and advise. 

Is this what Open Learning looking like? More of what we’ve always had, but now, if you want him, your grandfather can sit on your shoulder all day – in our family my brother would have been asking advice on car maintenance, I would have been quizzing him on first hand detail of the war.  Cousins often get briefings from my father-in-law a retired Oxford Philosophy Tutor.

And now, courtesy of all learning online, open and formal, the action really gets going. Or does it? Is it not simply replacing something else? The very active person in clubs, societies, in a large extended family and so on would be getting this anyway?

PART TWO

This second A2 sheet works with Vygotsky and Engestrom and the idea of how we construct knowledge in a context.

The second image shows the familiar Activity System, an expanded version of how Vygotsy expressed how we learn. The activity system has six interacting components: subject and object, mediated by tools or artefacts, rules, community and division of labour. Enegstrom’s next generation expression of the Activity System is to show two systems interacting, the key here being the interaction of two objects or outcomes to produce a third.

This model is manageable, with set links between the components.

‘In the field’ it is possible to allocate roles to people or departments, to kits and guidelines but then on the second line you start to consider how many activity systems are connected. However, it is no longer simply the case that there is one point of contact – this drive to an outcome or objective.

Already authors wonder if Activity Theory (I have the reference I’ll dig it out for you) can no longer apply, that it has melted.

The middle image in the middle of the bottom row circumvents the set connections to indicated that everything can interact with everything else. Feed this into a multitude of Activity Systems (the final diagram in the bottom right) and you see what complexity is created – the suggestion being that the there is more direct connecting between people with no mediation factors or systems. This assumes that there are no gatekeepers or other barriers, but increasingly, in tertiary education you may find yourself in a discussion alongside the biggest names in your field, whether you are an undergraduate, postgraduate or doctoral student, no matter what institution you are signed up to.

In fact, it is far more open than that of course – by chance or because of an enthusiasm or wish to connect anyone in theory can connect with anyone else – or at least with those who are taking part.

Some 4% of the population in Great Britain who by all accounts should be digital residents don’t event visit – there lifestyle choice is not to use the Internet, just as in the past people may have chosen not to have a TV. Another13% don’t have access at all – no connection, no kit, no space or place to use kit that is shared. And this is the UK. So Open Learning, though not exclusive, cannot be called universal.

Of course, being a purist, if you’re interested in Vygotsky you need to study him in Russian. Now where is there an Open Learn course on Russian?

Models work, as do metaphors, but with the digital world are all such models melting like sheet ice in a warming climate? Merged and blurred like so much ink dripped into a digital ocean?

Though Engestrom sees this as things and institutions, I like to see two people here, say an Art Director and Copywriter working together to solve problems. Two heads better than one and all of that. Any psychologists out there might offer me person to person models as alternatives. 

And how many institutions can and do interact? Think of a $100m movie. Think of planning the Olympics. Think of six people with different skills and experiences working together. 

Is this what Open Learning looking like?

At what point does the model break down?

Become redundant? Even ideas of ‘learning from the periphery’ (JS Brown and Duguid) falls apart if there is no centre, and no periphery, if everyone is equally ‘linked in’ with no degrees of separation at all, where you are anyone else’s father, brother or son. (mother, sister or daughter).

Engestrom ends up using the metaphor of a Mycorrhizae fungi growth such as this.  I also found this rather beautiful image. But can art therefore fool? Something beautiful that is attractive and persuasive may not acutally be representative of the ‘truth of the matter’ – but what is?

Mycorrhizae = the real thing (apologies to the originator, when I can find the reference I will add it)

Which has me thinking of something more fluid, like the water cycle (think digital ocean into the could, then back again)

And in a system, as something more dynamic, with patterns behind the chaos.

In which case, to my mind, Open Learn and e-learning is like global warming to the climate – it is simply putting more energy into the system. Just re-annotate the above (which I will eventually get round to doing).

And if this doesn’t make your brain hurt or your jaw drop take a look at this:

Scale of the Universe

and click on ‘Powers of Ten’ which is, I feel, evocative of Open Learning too – scalable from the micro to the infinite.

REFERENCE

Engestrom, Y Various. I recommend ‘From Teams to Knots’

Vygotsky, L (1926 if you want it in Russia, 1974 for the first translations into English)

Rebecca Eynon from the OII  for ‘Mapping the Internet’ stats on GB Internet use.

(I’ll flesh this out in due course. There are a dozen references related to the above. But this is Open Learning. You get my thoughts on this in all its various drafts).

Openness in Education WK1 MOOC

Openness in Education

Get comfortable with the technology

Look around

Set up a blog if you don’t have one and use the Blog Aggregator with #H817open tag

There are badges in Cloudworks if you like this kind of thing

Think about the priorities.

This is how I start a post in my Open University Student blog which I have posted to most days since 6th February 2010. I put in bullet points and notes. I just get the thing started then add to it. My own private wiki. It isn’t a fixed thing. Months even years later I may add to it – there are no rules on blogging, no guidelines worth following. Anything goes today as it did in the 1990s.

Learning Objects: Resources for distance education worldwide

Need
Theoretical
Practice
Shared education as courses
Traditionally through text books, wall maps and charts, videos and DVDs.

Save money, improve content.

Objects and object–orientated design

Hand rolled bread or a supermarket loaf? Are you a connoisseur or simply hungry?

Martin Weller


Open scholar – shaped by digital and networked.
Positive feedback loop between openness and creativity.
Alongside more learning at uni, lifelong and flexible learning.

I may try to write a piece that is journalistic, or more like an academic paper, or just record an event, jot down an idea. Rough rather than smooth, where other can tread and find traction, if only to correct, add to or develop the thinking here and take it somewhere esle.

After a paper and a SlideShare and generally following the conversation asynchronously as it occurs I then do the first activity. I should originate a mind map or spider map, but having dwelt on this so often over the last few years in particular I find myself recreating the same kinds of things: the water cycle, Engestroms fungi as an ecosystem, swirling ink or Catherine-wheel like fireworks all in an effort to visualise what open learning looks like.

I use Picasa Web Albums and have some 135 folders.

Each folder tops out at 1000 images. I am onto e-learning II and have 1250 images across the two – this is my e-learning world as much as 1500+ blog posts here and perhaps 2000+ in my OU student blog. When I get a good scanner and Mac in a few weeks time I will digitize some thirty years of diaries and fiction writing too – and ‘stick it out there’ so that it can compost in cyberspace rather than a lock-up garage.

For now here are a set of images that I have used in the past to describe or illustrate e-learning and for the purposes of this activity ‘Open Learning’ as a subset, or overlapping beast of e-learning, contained by the universe of ‘Learning’.

20130317-160914.jpg

20130317-161240.jpg

20130317-161335.jpg

20130317-161456.jpg

20130317-161536.jpg

20130317-161704.jpg

Creating real business value with Web 2.0

This last one from Dion Hinchcliffe

Attributes of Traditional and Social Media

More from Hinchcliffe.

Way was, way is, way will be – Webs 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0

  • Top down Web 1.0.
  • Democratized Web 2.0
  • Semantic Web 3.0

Doodle on the back of a hand out from WebSciences @University of Southampton DTC

14 years and this is what I’ve got to show for it

 

 

 

The power to remember and the need to forget

Fig 1. Your life? Remembered or forgotten?

Digitally record or better to delete?

INTRODUCTION

It frustrates me to try to read two complementary books e in two different formats – the first is marketed in its traditional hardback edition with a designer cover and eye-grabbing introduction from Bill Gates, while the second, an eBook I find understated – as if it is ashamed to compete. They are a pair. Twins separated at birth. They argue from opposite sides of the digital coin, one in favour of digitizing everything under the sun, the other for circumspection and deletion. Perhaps there should be a face off at the Oxford Union Debating Society. My role here is to bring them together and in doing so provide a one word conclusion: selection.

TOTAL RECALL

‘Total Recall’ (Bell and Gemmel, 2009) with its film-reference title and sensationalist headline ‘how the e-memory revolution will change everything’ risks ostracizing a discerning academic readership in favour of sales reputation and coining a phrase or two. It’s hero Gordon Bell might be the protagonist in the movie. The is is shame is that at the heart of what is more biography than academic presentation there is the desire to be taken seriously – a second edition could fix this – there needs to be a sequel. My copy of Total Recall arrived via trans-Atlantic snail mail in hardback, with it’s zingy dust jacket – it feels like a real book. I’m no bibliophile but I wonder if the pages are uncut and this edition has been pulled from a reject pile. It was discounted Amazon and as I’m after the words contained in the book rather than the physical artifact its state ought not to be a concern. Though the fact that it is a physical book rather pegs it to a bygone era. Total recall refers to the idea of a photographic or ‘eidetic memory’ – this needs to be stated.

Fig. 2. DELETE

‘Delete’ (2009) Viktor Mayer-Schönberger is subtitled ‘The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age’ and sounds as if it was authored by a vampire from Transylvania. It is a foil to ‘Total Recall’ with Viktor the antagonist to ‘Flash Drive’ Gordon. Delete hasn’t been – its in its fourth printing, needless to say I got mine in seconds as a Kindle version. I only ever by a book if I have to. I am too used to the affordances of the eBook to skim, search, highlight and share – and to have it on multiple devices, the Kindle, iPad, laptop and smartphone.

The copyright notice in Total Recall on ‘the scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet’ is ironic because this is what Bell does with his life – he has scanned and uploaded his life (though access is totally private). A double irony as he elects for Web 1.0 but won’t join the Semantic Web 2.0 and share.

I have been an exponent of ‘exposure’ – the release of a substantial part of who you are for others to chew over.

The online diary.

The way forward stands between the two, selective extreme gathering, storing and retrieval of your personal archive, while discretely deleting the irrelevant, possibly illegal (copyright, plagiarised, libel) and otherwise potentially reputationally damaging to kith or kin. (How can these be avoided if you wear a device around your neck that takes a digital snap every few seconds?)

They could be landform and landfill.

 

Where’s education in technology terms compared to the car?

I like to think e-learning at The OU is the Space Shuttle at least. (Though far from being put out of commission). As providers of distance learning The OU has been ‘in the air’ since launch in 1969 and in Cyberspace for the last decade. Where lies Higher Education from other institutions? The Ford Cosworth with go faster stripes? The Bentley? The 1910 Beeston Humber. And what about primary and seconday education.

The mind has been set thinking by Grainne Conole once more. With her in the driving seat for the next week we’ve already notice the volume and variety of work. This little task was supposed to take half an hour. It has been a lively three hours thus far from me and I;m yet to join conversastions with fellow students.

In chapter two, ‘Stepping over the edge: the implications of new technologies for education’ Grainne Conole argues that a number of catalytic triggers can be identified in terms of the impact of technology on organisations.

For the Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) Module H800 we are asked:

Is this your experience?

That the catalytic triggers themselves influence the outcome?

If a problem or problems are the catalyst then yes the nature of and the implementation itself ought to be in direct correlation. However it is often the case that technologies, indeed innovations, go looking for a problem to fix or that the possibilities of a technology cast a shadow on current practice oblinging change.

Edison did it both ways, solving problems but also trying to foist gadgets on people, both routes having to find their way to success or failure.

This discounts the impact of people, personalities or champions, CEOs and business owners who will carry the day sticking with or tearing out old technologies seemingly on a whim to replace something.

Can you think of examples of when technologies have had a radical impact on your own practice – either personally or professionally?

Over 25 years I have seen TV production change from big teams with office support to teams of one doing it all themselves, from the introduction of wordprocessing and spreadsheets, to the shift from tape or film to digital, from unionised crews and roles in both the UK and France, to a kind of D.I.Y. TV. (Though with one of my business manifestations ‘Shoestring Productions’ you could say I’m used to the micro-production).

What do you think are some of the key barriers to the uptake of new technologies?

  • Cost
  • People
  • Time
  • Disruption
  • Training
  • Transition

From your own experience, can you think of change processes you have been involved with – a new technical system, restructuring of your department, a change in job functionality?

There’s a new phone system going in now where the call comes through the PC and calls are taken using a headset or handset. How was the change process managed?

A hint at what was coming, followed by decisions on the choices regarding the handset or headset then a whirlwind of activity on coming in Monday morning to find new phones that are so light to handle it’s as if they’re made of card. A team of eager and helpful people, some strangers, some regulars from the IT department, buzzed about. There has yet to be training on the newsoftware, but I suspect that it is intuative and ‘just happens.’

(A few hours later my laptop starts talking to me. I realise it is a supplier. I hastlily plug in the headset. Moments later, by default I find through OUTLOOK I have called someone and leave a message).

Intuitive? Seems so.

What was the impact on individuals?

Acceptance, interest, more for our fingers to do, a step away from having video, an abundance of technical possibility that will trip us up. I’m starting to wonder if having filled our day with kit that means we are on call every moment of the day, carrying the office about with us and now doing two things simultaneously, taking calls while completing spreadsheets, for example.

What was the impact on day-to-day operations?

In this instance it has been fairly seemless, however, we were temporarily tripped up with the wi-fi going down and calls going to the wrong phones.

Are calls, like emails, going to be recorded and logged? Apparently.

Thus adding to the volume of stuff that is largely email? (no wonder email is on the wane)

As Mayes, Puttnam and others have argued, education seems to have been slower than other industries in embracing the potential of technologies.

(The OU Chancellor Lord Puttnam felt that while we’ve seen great advances in the car, much education delivery is stuck in the past. He doesn’t say where, though I’d love to put the question to Linkedin, ‘If the education you had was a car, what kind of car would it be?’

Can you think of reasons why this might be the case?

We’re dealing with cohorts of people coming through the gates (whether virtual or real, online or campus based learning) not components from China to be assembled.

Education has a history of making radical shifts in both practice and use of technology and getting it wrong, which would impact on a generation, year group or cohort going through. I am struck how much that is ‘teaching’ is a highly human activity, that between student and teacher, not simply between people and course materials.

The person who can learn in isolation is the exception.

Whilst e-learning promises so much, my fear is that a significant promise perceived by some is to make money. Whilst accepting the need for funding, education should be run as a business too, the idea that a ‘quick buck’ can be made by sticking modules online and taking payment up front will lead to many disappointments and poor retention.

Old ways, even if dressed in new clothes, such as pastorlal care and one-to-one guidance is just as necessary, perhaps more so for part-time and distance learners who have significantly more impacts on their day than the ‘captive’ campus-based student.

Is there anything significantly different about the nature or culture of education that has had an impact?

Hopefully the globalisation of education, made possible by the Internet and suppliers able to serve international audiences, the Western model of education will be diluted, infused with other practices and improved as a consequence.

Despite Web 2.0 and its promise of participation and experiential learning we are still bound often to practices of the last 500 years; I would say that I am largely ‘reading’ for a degree, what is more, the assessment process is equally anachronistic, as it is based on assignments and papers being submitted so that markers can do just as they would have done had I been closed into an examination hall for 3 hours each time.

Do you think this is also true for Web 2.0 technologies?

We do as we have always done and become habitualised by it. Taking notes, writing essays, revision and testing follows an old pattern that never suited or was appropriate to everyone. Web 2.0 allows you to study with a crowd, to turn to fellow students, alumni, anyone online (even different institutions where they are putting content out in Open Form). Those of us already embedded in these technologies and practices expect to see it as we study and work, to have conversations ‘on the record’ all the time, to capture thoughts and ideas from the digital wind and allocate them a place in our burgeoning knowledge banks.

Do you think that the hype about Web 2.0 tools is justified?

Neither hype, nor those who decry the potential should be given credence unless one is used to balance the other. All that should count is the empircal evidence that in a snapshot of time states the positon. From such studies, repeated, and longitudinal, it becomes feasible that we can see trends and plan/act accordingly.

Do you think there is any evidence yet that Web 2.0 tools are having a significant and increasing impact on how teachers teach and learners learn?

Very much so. At times, from my experience, course materials are the jumping off spot, a catalyst and guide rather than an absolute. I will often seek out what an author thinks or says now, rather than relying on ‘frozen’ papers and texts that were assembled for a virtual box of books some years before. If conversations dry up or don’t pick up in tutor or other groups I will decamp to a subject specific social network group.

Are we on another ‘groundhog day’ cycle or is there something significantly different this time?

There is something different that in some respects is a huge loop back thousands of years where like-minds gathered or those eager to learn would listen in then join in. This is made possible by the global reach of the Internet and increasingly affordable, reliable an easy to use kit.

If your conclusion is broadly that each technology is just another cycle of change, with promises not matching reality, is the perspective any different if the lens on this is over a longer time frame?

No and yes. What matters is the perspective of the person behind the lens, their beliefs, knowledge, experience, attitudes, ambitions, influence, power and voice. In other words, has there been a significant change in practice when you take a longer-term, cumulative account of a range of technologies?

It depends, the car caused rapid change, especially for those hit by one.

The Internet feels more like the air we breathe, certainly in Western and Developed Nations (if such distinctions even have any validity)

i.e. Incidents can’t be so readily isolated.
Other commentators
Every Day is a School Day

REFERENCE

Conole, G. (2011) ‘Stepping over the edge: the implications of new technologies for education’ in Lee, M.J.W. and McLoughlin, C. (eds) Web 2.0-based E-learning: Applying Social Informatics for Tertiary Teaching, Hershey

Are we ready for Web 4.0? Have we reached Web 3.0

I think Tim O’Reilly (2005) should have a say in this; did he not coin the term Web 2.0? Of course, we didn’t know, at the time, that we were in the Web 1.0 phase.

It feels like trying to decide where the boundaries are between the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages; indeed, the analogy is apt as both are about technologies. The latter over thousands of years, the former over thousands of DAYS.

I’m reading Larry Weber on Digital Marketing. He wants readers to think in terms of us currently hitting Web 3.0 with Web 4.0 on the horizon. His history doesn’t serve him well. To my mind he wants us to think if ‘new media’ as Web 1.0. It wasn’t. For the most part in the late 1980s and early 1990s we were just getting to grips with digital, with interactivity offline on Philips Laser discs, CDs then DVDs. I recall, painfully, trying to migrate interactive DVD content to the web c1998 … the platform couldn’t handle the file sizes. Anyway, this was when Web 1.0 began with the Web.

Isn’t Web 2.0 really tied to the Dot.com Bubble Burst of late 2000/2001 ?

The industry began to think itself out of the mess and the possibilities shifted as broadband became common place.

So where does this leave us now?

Did people living at the time of the Bronze or Iron age really care? Imports gave a hint of what other cultures could do.

My thinking is that the shift is so great and so fast that we are entering Web 3.0.

But this isn’t a board game, we aren’t simply leaving one domain and entering another. For heaven’s sake, we still have pen, paper, artillery, stone pestle and mortars, wooden rolling pins, iron tanks ..

Web 2.0 is Warner Bros teaming up with Facebook to deliver video on demand.

Web 3.0 will be want hundreds of thousands of people do with the content, because they sure as heck won’t simply sit back and watch. The way they mash it up and share it then come up with something NEW, this is Web 3.0 behaviour.

Web 4.0

Larry Weber hints at where it is going. Your thoughts?

REFERENCE

O’Reilly, T. (2005) What is Web 2.0: Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software [online],http://routes.open.ac.uk/ ixbin/ hixclient.exe?_IXDB_=routes&_IXSPFX_=g&submit-button=summary&%24+with+res_id+is+res18497(last accessed 16 March 2011).

Weber, L (2009) Marketing to the Social Web (Second Edition) John Wiley & Sons.

Web 1.0 versus Web 2.0

Were I back on the H807 Merry-go-round, I’d love to do the Innovations in E-Learning module over again … indeed, given the pace of change maybe a three year refresher is required.

I’d have loved some of this:

And this:

And this:

 

Which was my third e-book purchase.

I have read it, highlighted it, reviewed it, shared notes via Facebook on it as I went along and will blog about it at length in due course. And Twitter this, and that. And respond to comments.

Most important of all, I am acting on this books advice which means I now have feed from Google Alerts, and Technorati amongst many other suggestions on how someone who feel they have a voice can find like minds.

Is looking at this better than reading the chapter around it?

Best of all is to share it and discuss with those who know better, or want to know better. My opinion is your opinion put through the kitchen-blender.

To which David Wilson added:

Web 1.0 = 250,000 useful sites and 45 million intelligent users.

Web 2.0 = 80,000,000 useless websites and 1 billion ignorant, blind consumers.

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