#CritLit2010 Context – Power

In this referred post Streams of Content, Limited Attention: The Flow of Information through Social Media written by Danah:

“As we continue to move from a broadcast model of information to a networked one, we will continue to see reworkings of the information landscape. Some of what is unfolding is exciting, some is terrifying. The key is not be all utopian or dystopian about it, but to recognize what changes and what stays the same. The future of Web2.0 is about information flow and if you want to help people, help them reach that state. Y’all are setting the tone of the future of information. Keep it exciting and, please, recognize the power that you have!”

What power do networkers have when interacting with Web 2.0 tools? Is power important? Why?

Photo: From Flickr

#CritLit 2010 What syntax, pragmatics, context and semantics mean to me?

These are interesting points in Matthias’s post. I am not sure if I have fully understood your message here, relating to the wide jumps – I suppose you are referring to oftentimes different literacies and syntax (in and outside the course as proposed by different actors (learners & other networkers).
I appreciate your use of the words – traversing, jumps which match exactly what this course is all about. This reinforces the importance of syntax – the way in which words are arranged and form sentences and context – the words that come before and after a particular word or phrase and help to fix its meaning with the semantics (meaning). For me, I just integrate them in my connection (communication) (cognitively and socially), and so I seldom look into it with such details.

I suppose the juxtaposition of cognition, syntax, context, pragmatics, semantics, change, etc. would help when I draw them up in my mind as delineation. May be it is like driving a car (use of language), where one has to check the tyres, oil, lights, gear, accelerator and brakes (syntax – words in sequence), and the traffic condition (context), which type of car and technique should I use (pragmatics) and wayfind and sensemake (cognitively) in order to drive safely (meaningfully – the semantics).

Have I jump started? Or may be  driving in the wrong lane? May be I am driving a virtual one different from yours, but surely we are cooperating, not competing.

Photo: Flickr

Relating to Jenny’s post: Why is syntax particularly relevant for us as learners in the 21st century?

So would my analogy of driving a virtual car make sense? If I drive with the lights on, does it mean that I am driving at night, or in the day time when there was pouring rain, or that I have to signal that my car is on an emergency?  So the lights in my car would be like the words that I used, which could carry much meaning to myself and other drivers.  Similarly, when I am communicating and conversing with our peers and instructors, any words and sentences used in my post would signify my state of mind and emotions, and thus could be interpreted quite differently under different contexts.

Maria provides a great summary here on syntax

Syntax in linguistics (Wikipedia),“is the study of the principles and rules for constructing sentences in natural languages.  (…) The term syntax is also used to refer directly to the rules and principles that govern the sentence structure of any individual language”.

Relating back to pragmatics, I love Ruth’s post here where she introduced Netvibes as a vehicle for virtual driving.  I enjoyed the ride….

Photo: Flickr

I would like to reflect on the resources listed here in the course wiki in further posts:

Optional Readings/References:

http://www.shirky.com/writings/ontology_overrated.html Shirky on ontology

http://www.adammathes.com/academic/computer-mediated-communication/folksonomies.html folksonomies

http://youtube.com/watch?v=BBwepkVurCI Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe – Reality TV Editing

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2008/09/future-of-search.html google blog talking about searching

http://www.slideshare.net/librarianinblack/information-overload-is-the-devil?src=embed Information Overload is the Devil – by a librarian

http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/acrl/publications/whitepapers/presidential.cfmUSA Presidential Committee on Information Literacy: Final Report

http://www.ofcom.org.uk/advice/media_literacy/ UK ofcom media literacy

http://www.medialit.org/reading_room/article540.html centre for media literacy



#CritLit2010 Networked learning

In this Drexler, W. (2010) The networked student model for construction of personal learning environments: Balancing teacher control and student autonomy : a model for student construction of personal learning environment that balances teacher control with increased student autonomy.  This is a very interesting paper with lots of insights on the application of Web 2.0 and Personal Learning Environment

Here are my comments and questions in italics

In guided inquiry, the teacher provides the problem and directs the students to the materials for investigation (Colburn, 2000)

Under such guided inquiry, is a teacher-centered approach adopted?  Could people other than the teacher provide the problem?  How about the learner providing the problem?  Or the community of learners providing the problem?

The teacher is necessary to help the student navigate the breadth of content, apply the tools properly, and offer support in the form of digital literacy skills and subject matter expertise.

To what extent is the help of teacher necessary? Would this depend on prior experience and skills of the students?  What sort of digital literacy skills are important?

Principles of connectivism equate to fundamentals of learning in a networked world.  The design of the teacher-facilitated, student-created personal learning environment in this study adheres to constructivist and connectivist principles with the goal of developing a networked student who will take more responsibility for his or her learning while navigating an increasingly complex content base.

Five of 15 responses directly mentioned the teacher as still necessary, even if the student was prepared to take on more of the responsibility for learning.

What is the significance of having 33% of students mentioned that the teacher as still necessary?

What did the 67% of students think about the role of the teacher?

Achieving the delicate balance between teacher control and student autonomy is an ongoing challenge when facilitating student use of new technologies for self-regulated learning (McLoughlin & Lee, 2010).

Motivation, self direction, and technical aptitude are key considerations for implementing a networked student design.

My experience in networked learning also share similar considerations.

As the experience was related to 15 students in this case study, I am wondering how such networked learning experience would be translated in massive open online course (MOOC) in higher grades of K-12.

We have gained some insights into networked learning with CCK08, CCK09 and the current course of Critical Literacy 2010, and some of the research findings of CCK08 could be found below.

As discussed in my other posts on Complexity Theory here, it could be difficult to predict the outcomes of networked learning in advance, but we might be able to understand the impact of complexity on emergent learning after the course experience.

I think Wendy’s research provides valuable direction on how one could develop and implement networked learning based on PLE. Thanks Wendy.


#CritLit2010 Learning in a Complex World

I am deeply interested in this Safe and Caring Schools in a Complex World – A Guide for Teachers

Here are some relevant points summarised:

Prompting Complexity

– Internal Diversity

Problems with disciplines and disrespect for others – which are often attributed to diversity was embraced

– Internal Redundancy

The complement of diversity is similarity or redundancy – the quality that enables a collective to be interactive and to work together productively

– Decentralized Control

This sort of activity can enable the teacher to shift away from the role of the “teacher as an expert” and toward “teacher as participant” in the learning collective

Decentralized control enables the teacher to participate in the evolution of the collective personality of the classroom.

The focus here is more on being prepared than having plans

– Enabling Constraints

The instructions served as enabling constraints

Complexity research does not advocate that structures be abandoned, merely that they be organized in ways that allow for unpredictable and oftentimes imaginative outcomes.

– Neighboring Interactions

Here knowledge is explained:

– Knowledge Now – knowing is doing

Complexity research recasts knowledge in relational terms.

A system’s knowledge is its range of possible action – that repertoire of doing that enables it to hold together, to adapt, to thrive.

– Engaging Interest – knowing is being

– Experiential Learning/Skill Practice – knowing is becoming

– New Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes – knowing is belonging

Practical ApplicationKnowing is doing, being, becoming, belonging

The question, is not of the presence of complexity, but rather harnessing it for learning experiences.

My reflection:

Although the above guidelines are recommended mainly for designing and delivering lessons in the classroom environment, I found many common themes with the design and delivering of online courses.  This is especially so when I participated in CCK08 and CCK09 MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) where most of the points discussed above were incorporated into the course structure and delivery.  Currently, I am participating in this Critical Literacies Course, and so the notion of Knowing is doing, being, becoming and belonging do make sense.  I would however like to learn the perspectives of the instructors and peers on the use of Personal Learning Environment (PLE), and how they would view knowing when learning with a diverse media and spaces.

I would need to take more time to reflect on the significance of Web 2.0 and PLE and how it has harnessed my learning experiences.  This would be shared in the coming posts.


#CritLit2010 Complexity Theory and education

I found this Complicity, Simplicity, and Epidemiology easy to comprehend.  It provides a succinct explanation on Complexity Theory and how it is applied in Epidemiology.

How would we be able to apply the concepts of Complexity Theory in education?

Here is Complexity Theory and Education by Morrison, Keith.  This paper is an interesting, though controversial on complexity theory and education, IMHO.

Keith raised 8 points:

1. How novel a theory complexity theory actually is?

2. Is complexity theory simply a statement of the obvious?

3. How useful complexity theory actually is? “It is essentially a descriptive or reflective theory”  Is self-organization such a good thing, or whether it will lead to diversity, inefficiency, time-wasting, mob rule, and a risk of people going off in so many different directions that the necessary connectivity between parts of an organization, its values and direction will be lost or suffocated.  How desirable are highly complicated systems of inter-relationships?

4. Complexity theory is a theory of unpredictable, non-linear change, why it is important and how it can be promoted?

5. Complexity theory has the putative disadvantages (Kelly 1994:23-4) of being (a) non-optimal; (b) non-controllable; (c) non-understandable; (non-immediate).  Indeed, if the future is uncertain and outcomes are non-linear, then where or why should money and effort be spent on education, if they are not guaranteed to improve outcomes?

6. Complexity theory embraces a deep-seated pragmatism, justified only be (perhaps selfish) survival and suggests that what is right at any moment is that which works at the time, to ensure survival.  Is this satisfactory or sufficient as a theory of education?

7. There are, perhaps, questions to be asked against the coherence of the “theory” in complexity theory.

8. What actual added value does complexity theory bring such that it moves to becoming a sine qua non of understanding the situations described in the papers?  What is the real and practical, rather than perhaps self-indulgent, added value that complexity theory brings?  Is complexity theory important for education?

Keith concluded that

This paper has deliberately endeavoured to introduce some of the central tenets of complexity theory, to lead into the accompanying papers that illustrate some elements of complexity theory at work. ……
Here the intention has been to illuminate some key elements of the theory, to introduce the accompanying papers that have deliberately cast the net of complexity widely into several very different fields of education, and, taking the role of a sympathetic skeptic, to throw down a small gauntlet to ‘complexologists’ in education in respect of adopting a cautious approach in considering the value, or applicability, of the theory to educational discourse. It is a fascinating and alluring theory, but is it a siren song?
I would like to respond with the following brief question and comments:
How would Complexity theory help us in better understanding education and learning?
From the above paper, the author has raised questions on whether complexity theory is important to education.  I would suggest that it is.  It would take another post for me to respond to this important question.
I would however, open these questions to your discussion.
Postscript: A valuable resource in Complexity Theory here – decomplexity

Emotions and Leadership

In this Emotions and leadership: The role of emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence has the potential to contribute to effective leadership in multiple ways.

Investigating how leaders’ capabilities in the emotion domain or their emotional intelligence contribute to their effectiveness certainly seems worthy of future empirical research and theorizing.

In Narcissist Personality and Emotional Intelligence – meth addition treatment,

The last facet of EI is the ability to connect people and ideas, which the NPD possess a kind of street-smart EI. They are acutely aware of whether people are with them wholeheartedly and know who they can use and can be brutally exploitative.

How would one leverage emotional intelligence in order to contribute to effective leadership?

Here is my reflection on emotional intelligence.

How would emotional intelligence meet standards for an intelligence?  See my next post.

On Research – Sensemaking

I enjoy this interview on David Snowden on : When Einstein and Shakespeare meet

Here is our conversation on Facebook:

Ken Anderson

thanks John. very interesting insights. what do you make of it?
about an hour ago ·
John Mak

I have to reflect more deeply about it. Narratives and narrative research are great means of understanding people’s psychology, especially when people can talk about the “complexities”, inner thoughts through metaphors to reflect their subtle ideas (the tacit knowledge). Would this depend on the way how these narratives are conducted too? As David mentioned, many “interviews” or narratives were collected through “kids”, “students” who were not pre-conceived with any hypothesis, to avoid any biasing. The interviewees could then make sense of their own narratives based on their addition of pictures, videos, podcast – voices (recordings), and the gathering of these narratives would form the basis of “knowledge management” even for businesses – hospitals, health care, military & defence, etc. I think this is a novel approach, as Roy has also shared this methodology with me on a number of occasions. I could see the potential of this way of research in social networks.
My questions are: ” To what extent would people be able to express their thoughts clearly in the narrative – story?” Why is this critical? Would people “inflate, exaggerate, or make up stories in order to impress the interviewer or to impress the employers/researchers?”? How would people speak with truth, honesty, openness in social networks? Are there any thorough research which could reveal the level of “truth, honesty and openness in social networks?
How about you? Would you make further use of it? Your research on police officer seem to provide further insights into this “sense making”.
about an hour ago ·
Ken Anderson

yes, I will have to look into ‘sensemaker’ a little more. It seems possible to be a way to get at complex solutions/predictions. For now I have posted the links to the video and his blog-site in my current course on narrative inquiry, for the other students to look at. Thanks for the link!
about an hour ago
My pleasure. I am interested in more “informal research” through casual conversation and narratives (story telling) over the spaces and media here (FB, twitters, blogs) which could be a far richer way of learning & research (Just in time JIT) that would overcome the “strict pedagogical approach” in traditional hypothesis – survey – findings – analysis – discussion based on a  scientific approach.  However, it seems pre-mature to rely on the one methodology to approach an issue. The multi group-sense making approach with triangulation would be more useful to study real life problems, and develop novel thinking and thus arrive to emergent learning.
I think there would also be diversity of “opinions” when conducting such narratives over networks, and they are likely based on power laws – with a long tail. When such narratives are collected from particular communities (organisations, groups and teams) – ie. like-minded people would contribute more positive experiences, while dissenters would use narratives to voice their grievances and complaints. Would this be what business be looking for? In accordance to Complexity Theory concepts, those which could boost the morality of employees would be amplified, & those which would lower the morality of employees would be dampened and constrained. Would that be the main learning that we could have with social learning – that social networks would nullify the negative effects of certain actors due to the Power Laws phenomenon?