10 things that i think i know about learning ecologies

10 things that i think i know about learning ecologies

1. human beings learn; we don’t stop learning, we learn while we are awake, we learn while we are asleep, we learn when under stress, and we learn when comfortable and happy.

2. human beings do not always learn what others know,  or think is the truth, the right, the good, or anything else that is socially or culturally endorsed. in fact, we frequently learn what isn’t endorsed, and what is around the endorsed, what structures the endorsed and what endorses the endorsed, etc. etc. instead of learning the endorsed.  the learning around the endorsed learning may be the most important learning in the end.

3. learning is a process. it is not thing, nor a product.  it must be performed, but awareness of its performance does not always improve it.  human beings are not the only things that learn.

4. speed and change occur in ecologies and thus affect learning and learning ecologies.

5. learning constructs relationships. relationships are frequently labeled objects, essences, qualities, etc. but what we are doing is learning to relate one thing or set of things(subject, object, or quasi-object) to another thing or set of things. frequently when learning these relationships, we make them too ‘unchanging’, thus requiring future unlearning and relearning.

6. learning is social. there are always other human beings. other humans exist as learners implicit in everything, from our language, to our actions, to our texts, and to our world.  even if there are no ‘physical subjects’ other than yourself present when you learn, there are tens of thousands of subjects, a virtual society or hidden college, around you.  we learn from and with those human beings.

7. human beings build and inhabit ‘assemblages’ which are systems of relationships which persist through time such as institutions, environments, ideologies, etc. etc.  we build structures for learning too.  we also build ‘mechanisms’ which structure relationships with an intention of producing or re-producing in whole or in part assemblages.  the structuring and/or mechanizing of learning can prevent or hinder the learning, as much as it can help and encourage it.

8. assemblages and mechanisms are internal to our learning ecology, but we do not always learn about them, sometimes they are purposefully hidden from us, sometimes justifiably, sometimes not.  sometimes these assemblages and mechanisms augment human being’s capacity to learn.

9. when we structure and/or mechanize learning, we change its ecology, which necessitates the creation of relationships or the changing of relationships, thus we need to learn the relationships in the ecologies anew.

10. human beings have always been tool users. tools are technologies, and we have always learned about and through technologies.  technologies, as such, are part of our learning ecology and play parts in structuring and mechanizing learning. technologies have always mediated relationships, and all media are technologies.  there is a ‘craft’ to all technologies that must be learned, and in learning that craft, we create new relationships that we share with others.

Facts should be avoided.

Technical knowledge was to be strenuously avoided: “Facts are the core of an anti-intellectual curriculum,” he observed. “Facts do not solve problems. . . . The gadgeteers and the data collectors have threatened to become the supreme chieftains of the scholarly world.” The true stewards of the university, said the career administrator, should be those who deal with the most fundamental problems: metaphysicians.

[From Middlebrow Messiahs by Brendan Boyle, City Journal 16 January 2009]

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This is an interesting take on the great books model of higher education. The model where we read in order to learn to think, to learn to create, to learn to be. I think it is an interesting model, and I find that my students are generally unread in terms of classics and well unread in almost everything else longer than 10 pages too, but such is life.

IT Index

Amherst College, in western Massachusetts, enrolled 438 first year students this fall, for a total student population of 1680+. I gathered the following to tell the story of the changes occurring here and now in the life of the College. [From IT Index]

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Here’s a great index of a small college’s it needs. I’d love to see several tiers of colleges produce things like this.

Student Shortcomings – Anything but Masters of Technology – OpenEducation.net

When it comes to today’s kids and their use of technology, a new report sponsored by the British Library and the Joint Information Systems Committee reveals some very interesting results. The biggest shock to many will be one that is actually quite obvious to those who work in education.

[From Student Shortcomings – Anything but Masters of Technology – OpenEducation.net ]

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open education has a nice revealing report about student’s skills with technology.

as an online teacher, most of my students are fairly adept. they have to be to choose this way of learning, but… all students have some problems with technology as this report suggests. those problems are not the ‘plug it in and play’ variety, they are the epistemological and judgmental variety. Our students need higher order skills. However, unlike many people. I won’t say those higher order skills are related to the use computers. It is merely that they lack those skills in that arena also.

Fellowship and Conference

Since Tuesday I have been in Milwaukee visiting SOIS and CIPR as part of my Information Ethics fellowship. I attended a discussion about a possible future conference on translating intercultural information ethics across the situated understandings that term implies across a plurality of contexts. That seems like a great project, I’m happy to help out there. For the rest of the time, I attended the conference Thinking Critically:Alternative Perspectives and Methods in Information Studies. It was an excellent conference and I met many interesting people in the field of information studies, most of which are leaders in their field or soon to be so. I also attended the 2008 Samore Lecture: “Interpreting the Digital Human,” by Professor Rafael Capurro, at the Allis Museum, which provided an excellent end to the conference. I had excellent dinners and conversation with colleagues that I’ve not seen for some time, and with new friends and colleagues. I suspect that I’ll be seeing many of these people again over the years. It was a great experience all around, though I did not get enough writing done on a promised paper that is overdue. It really looks like the CIPR and SOIS are up to some great things and I’m happy to be affiliated with them as an Ethics Fellow for another year.

Unrelated to the conference and my fellowship, I had the opportunity to meet and talk with Thomas Malaby who has a book forthcoming on Linden Lab. We spoke at length about problems of research, computer game studies, his work with Linden Lab and his related work. It was a fantastic conversation and I hope to have similar conversations in relation to my work in Second Life in the future.

All in all the problem of alternative methods and the communities that support them is an important issue in my career. I have been affiliated with many groups on this topic from Phil Graham’s old NewMediaResearch, heterodox economics, and the political science perestroika movement list, to my current work with InterpretationandMethods and Theory, Policy and Society, not to mention my work with the Association of Internet Researchers. The work that I perform is primarily interpretive methods, from ethnography to textual analysis, though I’ve been known to use quantitative when it adds to the argument. The key to me though is to come to notion of understanding and being able to communicate what actually leads to certain understandings of the world. It concerns me that there are so many people with so many of the same issues across so many different disciplines and there is so little conversations amongst them. Though there are broad interdisciplinary efforts and efforts toward inclusion.

About TELOS : Telos Press

Since 1968, the quarterly journal TELOS has provided an international forum for discussions of political, social, and cultural change. It has built a bridge between intellectual debates in Europe and the United States, exploring matters of contemporary concern to both sides of the Atlantic. Over its long history, TELOS has promoted the awareness of dissidence in Eastern Europe during the Soviet era, debated the state of US-European relations, and examined topics central to post-Communism and the Iraq Wars. TELOS offers an exciting exchange of ideas for anyone with an interest in the vital international issues of the day.

[From About TELOS : Telos Press]

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telos press can now be found with 1998-2008 online:)

Blackboard wins initial round on patent suit damages awarded 3+million

The verdict, announced this afternoon, allows Blackboard Inc. to demand a ban on sales of Desire2Learn’s products in the United States.

[From TheRecord.com – News – Local: Jury rules against Desire2Learn in patent case ]

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I cannot help but wonder why this patent has not been invalidated. There has to be innumerable examples of this actually occurring in universities before blackboad, and beyond that, the patent does not seem to be particularly innovative in context, it seems to me to be mapping practices, but hey that’s my opinion, and the court disagrees.