Posts Tagged ‘CCK09’

Reply to George Siemens: Using Technology to Improve Collaboration

December 14, 2009

Read with interest George Siemens post on creating simple information sharing environments I just designed a course for St Thomas University using open source tools like yourself for CCK08 and 09.

I am using Google to make most of the functionality work ie Alerts, a Forum, and WordPress for blogging, posting papers. I went open because STU uses WebCT and is switching over to Moodle and I still have not been officially hired yet so I have little time to learn a new LMS.

This brings me to my second point of your point of simplicity over complexity. You note SharePoint problems. Yes it is complex. But it is a useful toolset when trying to organize complex business and making information findable. The portal aspect of SharePoint may be its greatest strength because it does not require much skill to learn to add sites, lists and libraries with standard navigation elements, thus making it easier to find things. I have found after assisting several organizations cleaning up their SharePoint implementation was that they continue to folder their records, treat SharePoint as a fileserver instead of a portal/intranet, and fail to apply metadata to make documents findable, sortable and viewable (ie usability and findability).

You note that I favour SharePoint for the business, but that is because I have seen the power of integrating Project Management, records management, document workflow and publishing, status reporting, and communications (SharePoint can even issue SMS messages!). At the same time, I can also go open source.

One aspect of my STU solution is no grade book. This is a weakness. Wouldn’t a student love to see a grade at the end of my commentary about their paper, rather than have to go to another system to see this confidential info. I have criticized Desire2Learns LMS because of the difficulty of assigning “grades” to discussion posts (RMC does a combined quality and quality metric for discussion forums).

Ultimatley, you have to decide what the information management problem is, what you want to get out of the solution, and what you can afford. Some days it may be SharePoiunt, other days it may by a Google solution.

Utility Of Twitter and a Networking Analogy

October 1, 2009

I replied to a philosophical posting about Twitter by BlanchManyard. Here is what I said:
I find myself being drawn more to Twitter for finding out about useful [online] reports from my “like-minded” network. I can’t always sign up for all the interesting RSS feeds or email notifications, so it is a useful complement. What is different than the neighbors analogy is that I am privy to conversations, or at least your side of conversation with a neighbor you are talking to over your back fence when I live across the road from you and thus would not tend to interact with your over-the-fence-neighbor. I also find out things about you that I would not normally hear from you becasue I can see everything you are saying 24-7, whereas if I was your neighbor, I might talk to once or twice a day. Twitter may be more analogous to the conversations you have with your spouse when you have 2 young children – burst transmissions of no more than 2 sentences before you get cut off or someone else interrupts.”

Memetics and Connectivism

September 20, 2009

Hello Connectivism & Connected Learning 2009,

I took the course last year. I just finished reading an article by Andrew Sullivan on memetics and how it applies to strategic communications to counter terrorism ideologies (his article). I immediately thought of how to relate this to Connectivism. The Sullivan talks about how the broadcast medium and the internet are the focus of counter-terrorism message sending, however, among the Islamic community, people do not listen to the message because the counter ideology to Islamic ideology is a head-on attack to the teaching of the Koran. Thus, no one listens to Voice of America etc for their counter-terrorism ideological message. Sullivan argues, that to be effective, strategic communications needs to occur at the grass roots levels.

In many cultures, our values, beliefs, and ideology is formed through those we have close contact with. Therefore, to be successful in Iraq and Afghanistan, NATO must take its message directly to the people. And counter terrorism message cannot be a direct assault on Islam. Instead it must be what he calls “oblique” or what the English Interwar period military strategist, JFC Fuller calls, the indirect approach to defeat your enemy.

So what does this talk of strategic communications and counterterrorism mean to connectivism? Well connectivism is partly about how the social web allows many disparate people from all over the word connect with those of similar interests. Sullivan argues that technology will have little impact, instead you have to get the “oblique ideas” into peoples heads through verbal and personal discussions. (I guess that is why the Provincial Reconstruction Teams are so important.) So, Connectivsm and connected learning do not appear to be valid in this case. Read Little Boxes, Glocalization and Networked Individualism for another viewpoint that may support Sullivan’s thesis.

However, in support of connectivism and connected learning, I would argue that the broadcast and internet communications have to be more subtle. Rather than be a “bulldozer” you have to be a “gardener” to cultivate change in ideas. This is a principle of Facebook and Twitter. Companies that try to force their message out there, do not do well. It is better to have a conversation. So NATO and the US would be well advised to take advantage of the social aspects of the web to counter terrorist ideology.

In Afghanistan, the context of communication is the personal dialog. Therefore, the message must be carried by real people. In Afghanistan, maybe Connected Learning is the personal. So the trick is to get the message out to as many areas as possible and that it be consistent, but local. Perhaps NATO’s use of information technology allows the messengers (the PRT team) to be rapidly responsive to changes and to disseminate that information to all the military forces, to the Afghan government and ultimately onto the Afghan people.