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H800: 22 Wk2 Activity 1 John Seely Brown on participation through tinkering

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 8 Mar 2012, 16:53

I agree with John Seely Brown’s emphasis, however, how should the degree of and the value of participation differ between the following four types of learning situation: primary, secondary, tertiary and ‘on the job.’

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And how does this degree of participation through-out a term, day or even a lesson in relation to the context, the ratio of teachers to pupils, the subject matter, the mix of students, the time of day, period in the week, in the term and so on. And how does such participation rank. Or measure up, in terms of efficacy – the time in which certain learning outcomes need to be met and assessed?

Learning that might be described as mechanical, compared to intellectual, for example, between how to fill a drum with uranium trioxide correctly, reliably and safely compared to learning a language. And even within these examples, how does the person’s preferred learning style come in to play?

QQ 1. Your work so far on H800 includes some individual reading and viewing/listening. Does Brown’s argument imply that this is less valuable than your group work?

Not at all.

Participation is being recognised as a shift to make more of something that has always occurred, but is enabled by current technology, so that such participation is as possible at a distance, as it is face-to-face.

The individual reading, reviewing/listening … and watching provides the assets, insights and experiences of others that are required to begin to form an opinion. As Vygotsky (1926) points out, learning doesn’t occur in a vacuum, there are stages, or step changes, related to coming to a more mature response to something. However, Brown suggests during the course of the presentation, that merely attaching oneself to the periphery of group work that interests you, could or will, if you play your role, lead to a kind of reverse centrifugal force during which you will be drawn into, or tumble in amongst, the activity at the centre of the group. The example he used was on contributing to the development of Open Source Software, the outsider attaching at the periphery and through participation, confidence, demonstration of ability, through ‘tinkering’ and engagement, gradually proving themselves worthy of participation in the ‘inner sanctum’ as it were.

QQ2. What are the implications of his argument for your own use of technology – in your own learning and teaching?

If we think of the best way to learn a language as ‘immersive,’ then perhaps there are many more occasions where similarly immersive, participatory learning could have a place and produce, as a result, better ‘results.’ That there is no point in being precious with knowledge, instead of keeping it close, let it go, build reputation, share ideas. How authors or creators/creatives earn a living from the expression of their thoughts is another issue.

Models are changing across the board

This is completely counter to my experience of secondary and tertiary education, indeed, I liken myself to Brown who talks about his writing code that no others could read and being proud of this. We kept everything close to our chests. However, putting on theatre shows and later moving into TV and Film production, I was involved in a highly participatory activity, indeed, coming in as a runner, or production assistant is/was and still is the way to gain experience, learn on the job, prove yourself and through will, willingness and personality, being drawn in or permitted into the ‘inner sanctum’ which you might call the key roles of producer, director or writer (compared to assistants to any of these, or assistants to the assistants).

QQ3. What are your reactions to Brown’s style of presentation?

The experience in person would have been satisfactory. As you listen you may take notes, may refer as appropriate to the slides he uses, as well as watching his facial expressions and body language and listening to the change in timbre, tone and pace of his voice, all adding emphasis, nuance and even colour to what he is saying. As someone from Television, who has covered lectures/talks it disappoints me that little adequate thought has been given to why certain shot sizes work better, the variety of shot sizes, the angle from which it is shot, even the lighting as Brown often steps back into the shadows, let alone when and how to use cut-aways to the slides and to the audience. However, for a change, the sound quality is good – often it is atrocious. If you get bored or distracted count how many bald heads there are, try to see who is taking notes, does someone get up and leave then return.

None of this is pertinent to the piece and should never been in the frame! Indeed, picking up on what he says later I ought to load this into iMovies or FinalCut Pro, frame him, cut in therefore, and source alternative or better slides.

To cut back its length I may cut in audience shots, whether or not they are of people at this presentation so long as they appear to make a match. What Brown himself would applaud and calls ‘tinkering,’ which is perhaps his thesis.

To tinker is good. Participation is effective.

Enrolling people, engaging them, team-work, motivational techniques … all suggests the teacher not as subject matter expert, but as host, guide or coach ... so simply the person with first-hand experience. ‘Understanding,’ he says, ‘is socially constructed’.

QQ4. What are its strengths and weaknesses compared with the webcast lecture in Week 1 about the Google Generation, or with other presentations you have seen?

Online producers are yet to convince me that they have got it right. I doubt there is a single ‘best’ way to cover such talks/lectures … you may want to preserve the veracity of the presentation and therefore cut nothing at all, indeed, professionally for multi-media and for multiple platforms ‘we’ may provide potential editors with shot sizes and cut-aways to allow them to make their own editorial decisions: this would be in keeping with what Brown describes as ‘tinkering’ later on.

Dr Ian Rowland gave a chat, without visual support. Brown gave a talk with visual support that was weak – they didn’t complement what he was saying, they lacked, IMHO, adequate emphasis.

The answer, which those in education, where the budget permits, should do, is for writers to work with visualises, as in advertising copywriters work with art directors, or giving the emphasis to the director, as directors do with another person’s screenplay/script in TV. This isn’t so far-fetched, modern educators can shoot and edit their own video, and as educators surely they ought to be more away of the need and benefits of appealing across the senses. For example, if this presentation were going to 17,000 managers across the Deutsche Bank I might have the budget to employ an illustrator/cartoonist such as Steven Appleby to make more of these supporting images – to make them more memorable and appealing, and in so doing, strengthening the message.

QQ5. Is it paradoxical that you are invited to listen to one person talking about, among other things, the importance of study groups?

It isn’t paradoxical at all. We live in a mixed and multi-media world. Those recording these events, as here, shouldn’t just be alert to accessibility issues (sight/sound), but to learning choices an audience/readers might like to make on how they engage with the material based on personal choices and circumstances.

Often, despite balking at reading all the time, I would prefer the peer-reviewed, published paper that can be read in a fraction of the time it takes to sit through a ‘talk.’ Already I behave as my 12 year old son does and would have listened to John Seely Brown, while reading the transcript, while (as I did) executing quick Google searches on all manner of things that he mentioned, from ‘what is a ‘bull meeting,’ to the credentials of those he mentioned (what does it say in Linked In) and any related reports John Seely Brown may have penned SINCE this presentation in October 2007.

REFERENCE

 

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Design Museum

H800: 19 Week 2 Activity 6 University Libraries vs Google

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 18 Oct 2014, 16:39

Dr Ian Rowlands The Google Generation

The key thoughts that I take from Ian Rowlands talk on the Google Generation are :

  • Disintermediation
  • Extravagant Claims
  • Diversity and segmentation (he picked out three clusters)
  • Google and Wikipedia dependence
  • Text based to visual
  • The mental maps of children
  • Books as chapters
  • Good students and ‘good’ research techniques
  • A mental map of information

Disintermediation

The middleman, or the ‘intermediary function’ has been cut out. He mentioned travel agents, we could just as easily exclude secretaries (because of word processors), the post man and(because of email), people in ‘middle management’ because analytics run from the shop floor, or retail outlet to a directors computer and … even the teacher as subject matter expert.

The Extravagant Claims as popular commentators, authors and publications become mashed-up with serious study.

These are the Marc Prensky (Digital Natives) and Malcolm Bradbury (The Tipping Point) types who take indicators from genuine research and then exaggerate and extend the claims and findings.

They are not ‘one homogenous blob’ as Dr Rowland puts it.

There is diversity by age, gender, and exposure to IT. This is complex picture is exactly what advertising agency and product marketing departments understand and it was about time educators took a similar approach to understand the minutiae of the ‘audience’ who will choose to purchase information from their libraries …. Or not, that fails to attract interest because a headline is easier to consume than a 30 page report. There is segmenting by diversity type … something librarians once did for users, but now readers can do for themselves.

Do modern users care or understand the relevance of what they find

Can they not differentiate between dirt or a pearl? That a Google search is not a library search and that there are more sources than Wikipedia?

We’re shifting from text based to a preference for the visual. But has not the visual always been preeminent. People learn less from reading than they do by observing and doing, always have done. Indeed, has not there simply been a period of text based education elitism?

The mental maps of children are indeed different

Rowland expresses concern about this as if it isn’t commonly understood. It would help if those in education took a formal course in education as teachers in primary and secondary education are required to do, they therefore might understand something about childhood development, developmental psychology and basic neuroscience.

Each generation is a product of how and where it is brought up and what they are exposed to; if we have a Net Generation today, then in the past we have had generations brought up with Television, with Movies, with the car, and before that the train … and further back still, the first generations to be literate and have books. It isn't helpful to isolate the Google generation and think they're different from us. They're not. There's a continuum. Dr Rowland

Books as chapters

Is this not the same with tracks from albums, rather than the entire LP concept?

Good search technique students get better grades than poor search technique students

Is it the good research technique, or the good student that gets the results? I’m not convinced the correct correlation is being made here.

We need a mental map of information so that stuff doesn’t get ‘hidden behind the screen.’

From the point of view of methods of communicating the information I would prefer a summary and article to a informal talk cum-lecture. Armed with a verbatim transcript I will immediately do a search for words and phrases that would have been edited out of any written piece on the subject. So out come the following:

‘actually’ 19 uses.

‘really’ 56 uses

‘very’ 54 uses

‘you know’ 20 uses

‘simply’ 12 uses

‘literally’ 3 uses

‘sorts of’ 4 uses

(This I should add is a very modest tally of a normal convesational style that would occur with anyone except a seasoned broadcaster. The point is, you don't want to read a verbatim transcript).

Here I am making something I want to read, easier to read.

All that counts is how the information goes in, if there is motivation to engage with it, and how the information is then labelled, enabled, packaged and chunked in your mind.

Are the right kind of neurological activities going on that result in the information withering, or proving fruitful?

Is it to be engaged in deep learning, or is it just ‘stuff’ top be learnt, tested and dropped?

The key word for any expression of information that matters to me is EFFORT.

Has the person wishing to communicate something made the effort to get it right?

We have a plethora of choices

A subject we may be interested in may be delivered as a lecture, a workshop, a classroom talk, a presentation of any kind, an after dinner or at the dinner table, live or recorded, in vision or not, edited or not. It may be a paper, a leaflet or pamphlet. It may be a formal study or report, an assignment or essay, even a thesis, a chapter in a book, or entry in Wikipedia.

It might also be the basis for an entire course of study or a module within one. The subject of a three minute news story, with an interview and cut-aways, or a documentary, or a panel debate. It might be a poster, a website, a blog entry or email as body text or an attachment.

It can be many things and all things. One dish can make a smorgasbord

There are lectures and there are informal talks, some like this, perhaps ought not to receive wide circulation, it may be unfair to take a speaker out of context. I get the feeling that this is an intimate, even informal, sharing of ideas, a catalyst to get a discussion going amongst a group of professionals.

From a learning point of view I cannot sit back and listen to these things and get much from it

This is didactic, being talked to. My attendance at lectures as an undergraduate stopped during my first term and I doubt I attended ANY lecture afterwards; it was easier to read their book, as I felt most lecturers were ‘reading from their book.’ So I got their book from the faculty library, or got to it first in the Bodleian, or bought it from Blackwell’s (all three within a 2 minute bike ride of each other). Just as a sheet of grabs of bullet points from a Power Point presentation are NOT ‘presenter notes,’ nor is a verbatim transcript of the person talking.

This is LAZY, though of value as a point of ACCESS best practice.

If I can read the presentation then I’ll do so, not at three words a second (the spoken voice) and ideally not with all the ticks and circumlocutions that slow the spoken word down in what can be an indulgent perambulation around a subject. Academics are not broadcasters. What do we read at? Nine words a second?

When someone was born does NOT dictate whether they are or are not exposed to a plethora of electronic gadgets, tools and resources.

Whilst they have to have been born after the technology has come into existence and popular use, this does not mean that they are ‘brought up in an immersive rich media interactive culture’.

If we take everyone born on the planet after 1993 the percentage exposed to this immersive media immediately and understandably drops massively. It is a western, developed, first world phenomenon.

 

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