Assembling the heterogeneous elements for (digital) learning

Category: quotes

New ways of thinking – quote

Came across the following quote in Mischra and Koehler (2006), storing it here for future use.

The important thing in science is not so much to obtain new facts as to discover new ways of thinking about them.
Sir William Henry Bragg

References

Mishra, P. and M. Koehler (2006). “Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge.” Teachers College Record 108(6): 1017-1054.

Innovation – rendering the hitherto non-existent blindingly obvious

A lot of what I do could be seen as innovation. In the past I was a “faculty teaching and learning innovation officer” and I may well take on such a role in the future. Today, I came across the following quote from Douglas Adams which seems connected to the idea of innovation.

It is a rare mind indeed that can render the hitherto non-existent blindingly obvious. The cry ‘I could have thought of that’ is a very popular and misleading one, for the fact is that they didn’t, and a very significant and revealing fact it is too.

One reason people don't take to new e-learning technology

In a recent post I started my collection of quotes on this blog. I also talked about the “mere exposure effect” and suggested it’s one reason behind the horseless carriage approach to using new technology. It’s also one reason why people resist new technology – especially e-learning/computer technology.

In working on another post, one directly related to the PhD, I came across this article from EDUCAUSE Quarterly titled “The Three-E Strategy for Overcoming Resistance to Technological Change “.

One of the quotes it uses to as evidence of why adoption of new technology is hard is from a book by Carolyn Marvin

For if it is the case, as it is fashionable to assert, that media give shape to the imaginative boundaries of modern communities, then the introduction of new media is a special historical occasion when patterns anchored in older media that have provided the stable currency for social exchange are reexamined, challenged, and defended.

The EDUCAUSE Quarterly article also says the following

As technology professionals, we often fail to see how intimidating technology can be to the user community.

I’d expand this out to include instructional designers and management. Instructional designers often don’t see how intimidating many of their pedagogical innovations (forget the use of technology) are to many academic staff. Many management folk I’ve seen make similar mistakes, though generally worse. Management generally don’t see how new pedagogy and technology, if used effectively, needs a radically different approach to teaching and learning practice. More importantly they don’t see or engage in the fact that this type of radical change often brings into question many of the accepts administrative processes, policies and organisational structures within institutions.

The article also quotes an EDCAUSE review article titled “My Computer Romance”. An expanded quote from this review article

What kept me from seeing and acting on those benefits? The question interests me, and not only out of self-regard. The question is at the heart of “faculty development,” a crude, even misleading phrase that cannot suggest the trick of imagination needed to bring substantial, important knowledge into plain sight and to develop in faculty the resolve and courage to risk failure. For an academic, “failure” is often synonymous with “looking stupid in front of someone.” For many faculty, and maybe for me back in the 1980s, computers mean the possibility of “pulling a Charlie Gordon,” as the narrator poignantly terms it in Daniel Keyes’s Flowers for Algernon.

This has significant implications for personal learning environments that surely represents a significant shift in practice created by the capabilities of a new medium and offers an even greater opportunity for academics to “pull a Charlie Gordon”. The Quarterly article

finishes it’s introduction with the following paragraph

Consider for a moment the impact of Web 2.0 on a professor working in academia for 20 or 30 years. The flattening of knowledge production and the ease of access to information represented by Web 2.0 technologies in many ways negates the concept of the “sage on the stage” or even traditional notions of scholarship. This world is not what most professors are used to, and many are threatened by and therefore resist this kind of change.

The solution

The Quarterly article

suggests that the solution is a strategy for gaining acceptance of technology that embodies “Three Es”

  1. Evident – as potentially useful in making life easier.
  2. Easy to use – to avoid feelings of adequacy.
  3. Essential – as part of going about their business.

Sort of sounds a bit like the insights from TAM and Diffusion of Innovations.

The wrong view

The Quarterly article finishes with this sentence

Only then will faculty effectively use the complex technical infrastructure that we technologists labor so hard to put into place.

God I hate the mindset that underpins that sentence. Or at least the common mindset amongst “support” folk in higher education. This isn’t limited to just information technology people. Instructional designers, quality folk and management all suffer from this view from time to time.

How do we get these poor ill-informed and/or obstinate academics to use the great technology/idea. If only we could do this we would solve all the problems of learning/teaching/research in one fell swoop.

This has been a problem with most people peddling innovation. Indeed, diffusion theory (Rogers, 1995) one of the best known innovation theories, has been criticised for having a pro-innovation bias that, amongst other effects, can separate members of a social system into the superior innovators group and the inferior recalcitrants group (McMaster and Wastell, 2005).

In this paper (Jones and Lynch, 1999) we talk about

  • developer based; and
    A developer-based focus assumes that the new product will automatically replace the old and that adopters will see the benefits of the new product automatically and in the same way as the developers.
  • adopter-based approaches to software development.
    These approaches focus on the adopters and their setting in order to understand the social context and the social function the innovation will serve.

The Es approach strikes me as someone who comes from a developer-based culture taking the first steps towards a more adopted-based approach. But someone who still has the same underlying belief that we build it and they use it.

References

Jones, D. and T. Lynch (1999). A Model for the Design of Web-based Systems that supports Adoption, Appropriation and Evolution. First ICSE Workshop on Web Engineering, Los Angeles.

Rogers, E. (1995). Diffusion of Innovations. New York, The Free Press.

Carolyn Marvin, When Old Technologies Were New: Thinking About Electric Communication in the Late Nineteenth Century (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), p. 4.

Plato on the problems that writing will create for student learning

This is the first post in my new “quotes” section. Acting as a storage place for all the interesting insights I come across.

I came across this one as part of the keynote presentation given by Mat Koehler and Punya Mishra at the SITE’2008 conference.

They quote it as being from Plato’s Phaedrus

[Writing] will implant forgetfulness in their souls… calling things to remembrance no longer from within themselves, but by means of external marks…[students will] seem to know much, while for the most part they know nothing, and as men filled, not with wisdom, but with the conceit of wisdom

'slide' on the mere exposure effect

This illustrates the fear and the actual loss of something as the world moved from an oral to a written culture. For me it highlights that there will always be fear around the potential implications of a new technology. It also really highlights that people can be limited by their in-built and unquestioned assumptions that have been formed by their environment and can find it difficult to evaluate the positives of the new in some sort of objective way.

An example of the mere exposure effect

Drucker on Adaptive vs Plan-driven

Peter Drucker from “The Effective Executive”

“Most discussions of the knowledge worker’s task start with the advice to plan one’s work. This sounds eminently plausible. The only thing wrong with it is that it rarely works. The plans always remain on paper, always remain good intentions. They seldom turn into achievement.”

“Innovation and Entrepreneurship”

“‘Planning’ as the term is commonly understood is actually incompatible with an entrepreneurial society and economy….innovation , almost by definition, has to be decentralized, ad hoc, autonomous, specific and microeconomic.”

Sun Tzu Strategy Quote

The essence of strategy is the close view of distant things and the distant view of close things — Sun Tzu

My interest in emergent/agile approaches means I’m not a fan of strategy and/or strategic appraoches currently used in most business.

I think there is possibilities to use this quote to bring out my disquiet with this approach, at least in some contexts.

  • close view of distant things
    Assumes you can achieve such a thing. Bounded rationality, rapid change etc imply you can’t, or if you do it will be imperfect.
  • distant view of close things
    Implies too little knowledge of existing practice so that strategy can become unconnected and difficult to implement.

A start

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