Thursday, December 04, 2014

#OEB14 Rheingold, Lewin, Stevenson

These are summary notes of the presentations at Online Educa Berlin, 2014. If the text uses the first person, it is the presenter speaking, not me.

Aida Opoku-Mensah
E-Learning Africa

I've seen the impact of e-learning. In countries where we can not invest enough in schools, e-learning is the only option. There are far too many people without access to learning.

- Big data - potential for personalization
- Cloud - provides computing power for many activities

World market for e-learning 51.5 billion in 2018.

Introduction of Howard Rheingold.


Howard Rheingold


For me it has always been about the kind of learning and teaching that technology enables. Social learning is what makes us human. Without the connection to the students and the pedagogy, I don't think the technology would have been so useful.

I'm talking about a new culture of learning - also the title of a book by JS Brown and Doug Thomas. One aspect: learner centred. Before, you used to have to go to a school. Learners have many other options now. It's also more social - learning has been more and more peer-to-peer and not just listening to the teacher. It's also more inquiry-based. It's also more collaborative - this used to be called cheating. It's also cooperative - I talk about co-learning, being responsible for each other's learning. Networked: this is new - children in schools are able to connect with each other in ways that weren't possible before.

In 1996 I wrote this article, virtual communities. I created a 'university of the future' that cost several million dollars - I didn't imagine that 10 years later people would be able to have all this virtually for free.

In 2008 I was able via a MacArthur grant to create a social media classroom. The idea was to enable students to use different media in the same browser-based environment.

The forum, for example, enables the sort of online conversations that are really not feasible using email lists. The forum explicitly enables the group to have a voice. In school these conversations are truncated; the bell rings and students move on. Online these continue. It's about the group being more than the sum of its parts.

On another tab you find the blogs. It is the individual blogger that chooses the subject. This is more and more important at younger ages. Think of the difference between writing a paper only the teacher sees, and writing a paper the world sees.

There's also the wiki, to create pages that anyone authorized to edit. We use it to collaboratively author documents. We also use social bookmarks.

A lot of what I am talking about isn't something I knew. It is something I learned along with my students. It was about empowering the students, to take control of their own learning. Here's a picture of how the classroom has changed. Working with students we developed the concept of co-teaching. As well, we reorganized the room into a circle - there's no back row in a circle.

One of the things we did was to develop a lexicon of the words and phrases we encountered; it was up to all of us Wikipedia-style to add to the definitions. If each one of us does some little thing we are able to create something larger.

We also used mind-maps to allow people to break out of the linear, to think visually about the subjects. One of the co-teaching duties was to make a mind-map of the materials assigned.

A few years ago I decided to experiment outside the university and go into purely online teaching. I started Rheingold U for students all over the world. Interesting - I changed my greeting from 'esteemed students' to 'esteemed co-learners'. It reflected a different attitude to students, to give them power over learning.

We use a wiki, we meed online once a week - we can use Collaborate, Adobe Connect, Big Blue Button - it's an exercise in multi-tasking in many ways. I put up a page and asked participants to take new roles = search, mondmap, create lexicon, etc. This creates interactivity - you could go to YouTube and just listen. BB Collaborate has a very nice whiteboard that lets people put up stuff anonymously. We use it to brainstorm; then some students would create more formal mindmaps.

It's really not a matter or memorizing facts; it's a matter of finding connections and finding meaning.

Since then many services have started up to allow people to learn outside school - Khan Academy, Coursera, etc. If you have internet access you can learn. That started me thinking, what's the next step? What do self-learners need to know in order to effectively teach and learn from each other. More and more people are finding out they can learn what they want to learn online.

What of we eliminated the teacher altogether? How would they organize themselves? What would they do? So, I got together with a group at Berekeley and talked about it. Over time the group in the room dropped out, but an international group online worked together to created what we called 'Peeragogy'. It was an exercise in peeragogy. We studies and worked online - we used Google Hangouts and Wordpress - we created a Handbook. You can join our meetings and heelp us edit and revise it.

I tend to work ahead of the rest of the worls and I think peeragogy will be more common over the next 2, 3, 5 years. Yes there is a place for expertise. But we can't scale up traditional brick and mortar schools. Also, there is an economic question: do people want to pay more taxes to pay for teachers and schools.

A recent McArthur grant got me involved in open and connected learning. A good example is ds106.us - instead of using the digital classroom, this is teaching and learning on the open the web. I ask my students to claim a domain name and get a WordPress server on the web - costs $25 - and take control of what they do on the web. The web is not just Facebook; it is not just social classrooms. I created a course hub that aggregates their blogs.

They are learning how to create a public voice. I tell them, whether or not they like it, they have a public face. People talk about them. This is about them being able to take control of their own selves. We use MediaWiki, we use Discourse (discourse.com) - working with the organizers of these open learning courses (eg. Jim Groom) led us to create an open course on creating open courses. There are core groups, and thousands worldwide, and you can use the Wordpress filters to control what you see.

Right now online you can find our work at connectedcourses.net - it's not about driving this top-down, but to enable people to co-evolve the pedagogy, not to replace traditional learning, but to enhance it. Every year in the syllabus I introduce students to new ways of participating in ways they are not accustomed to. They can read books and listen to lectures, but they're not used to co-teaching and working together. They don't just take a package of learning from the course.

This not the only way of learning. There are many things you need to learn how to do - how to change a lights switch. More and more this procedural knowledge is something that more and more we need to do together.


Lisa Lewin - Pearson   @lisalewinlive
The Ed Tech Revolution


The big news story of higher education in the 20th century was one of access. There was a big explosion of access to tertiary education, something that used to be reserved to the elite. It became accessible to the disadvantaged, ethic minorities, to women.

The OECD's list of nations that have 40% who have reached higher education attainment. (North America, Europe, Japan, Korea, Australasia). I did. I'm from the midwest US. My grandfather was born 1925 in southern Illinois. He was in WWII in Japan, used the GI Bill to pay for his education. My mother was born 25 years later; she attended a land-grant university (the US granted land to states that could be used to start universities - Many of these grew to become the mega-universities). That's where she met my dad, a bright international student from Jamaica. I was born in 1975, so when I went to Harvard I was able to take advantage of a loan program (unsubsidized loan at low interest backed by the government). It shows that policy interventions can have both a micro-impact (my case) and a macro-impact (all of yours).

Now, we're making a bet that technology can continue to improve access. It gives flexibility, more diverse options. We also hope that technology can increased access in the developing world. We're placing a bet that tech can expand access on that axis.

We also hope that etch will not only expand the quality of education, but also improve the quality. That's where facts and figures are a bit murky. When we look at the data, on balance, we're not getting the big learning gains that we would expect. Access has expanded, but we still have issues of completion, employability, training in 21st century skills. It's tougher having e-learning produce gains in quality.

Maybe this is a problem in innovation. Here is a (Foster's) technology S-curve (a theory that suggests technology follows a common curve, from trial and error to rapid adoption, to mainstreaming at a performance limit, to eventual replacement). I argue that we are at the end of  the first curve in educational technology. We've seen some mainstreaming and rapid adoption - it's no accident that the sponsors are Pearson, Blackboard and D2L - we have LMSs and 'online homework systems'. So we might be at that phase near the top of the curve, facing diminishing returns. On the measure of learning gains - we're not seeing 'double the learning gains'. So the question becomes, how do we get to that next technology?

Some candidates. For example - brain scans - we didn't know before that during a lecture the brain slows down to an activity below that of sleeping. We didn't know about the impact of nurtirents. Etc. If we could create brain-informed teaching and learning strategies, that might bet us to the next level.

Or another theory: it's not brain science that will get us to the next level, it's data science. The theory here is that we were not able to understand what was happening at the point of instruction. We only test what students every few weeks or every few months. Imagine what can happen if we observe every course resource, to actually dissect the effectiveness of all the micropoints. Now we have a critical mass of student s- we have a zettobyte of data. That's  lot of data; we could mine that.

But wait. Maybe, the limit to progress sin ed tech is a human limit. Eventually machines will be able to do everything better. If we want truly personalized learning, an algorithm will be able to produce this better than a human ever could. Engineers in augmented reality and virtual worlds suggest that machines can help us overcome physical limits - to demonstrate nuclear fission, for example, or to think about how we better scale and give training teachers better practice without subjecting studetns to their experimentation.

Or there's one more possibility. What's preventing us fro  getting these outsized learning gains is that we have not had a metascience that pulls all those threads together, helping us tie all of these things in a manner that's somewhat wholistic. That's what learning science - a new discipline - will do.

My personal view is that any of these, any one of them, if we could figure out how to apply it correctly, could just explode our ability to apply ed tech. But what that will rely on is for all of use to do out part to develop a better and bolder innovation ecosystem. Here's what I mean by that.

At a certain point, there's basic research. Following that, there's a technology development space - an incubation space. Early-stage startups, taking new discoveries and trying to apply the,. Then you have a product development phase, and a scalability phase, where you have people whose job it is to productize those innovations, so they can be used by the masses.

We need to do two things. First we need to go deeper in all of these things - being bolder and more creative in research and innovation, etc. And the other thing is what I'll call horizontal coordination, all of these working together, so that we're actually translating the great work that's happening on the frontiers into actual products everyone can enjoy.



Mark Stevenson - @optimistontour

Hello! Hello! Hello! I will go very fast.

So I grew up in a drepressive household, that led me to create a consultancy.

Douglas Adams - three types of tech
- tech that existed when you were borm - doesn't feel like tech
- tech created before middle age, that's exciting and useful
- tech created after middle age, which is pointless and makes you angry

So in learning, we have technologies that looks interesting but we don't know what to do with it. Eg. genetic testing. For example, I was screened, I have the same risk as a black mad for a certain disease. I said I wanted a test, my doctor said, I can only recommend that test if you are a black man. My doctor is not a racist, but our system is, relying on superficial cues rather than actual data.

Looking at the exponential growth of tech. Your mobile phone has more computing power than the entire Apollo program. You might think a car driving itself is amazing. But you can see somebody in such a car being amazed. Now they will be allowed on the roads. What does this do to insurance countries? If there's no driver, who do they blame? But humans are bad at driving cars; it will reduce accidents.

In a few years, there will be a 1 cent human genome. What does that do to medicine. Fuel created from carbon, which they feed to algae. Taking carbon from the atmosphere. Many companies bid on this project. Kleinworks win the bid, and is making diesel from the air right now. This will hit ion a niche market in 2023. The cost of solar power is dropping, and capacity is doubling every couple of years. Companies are switching from oil and gas to renewables.

The world will change dramatically, because all of our politics and economics are the politics and economics of energy.

Another amazing thing. 3D orinting. 3D printed technology - a 3D printed heart. A German technology, Nanoscribe, 3D printing components for microchips on a nano scale. Eventually 3D printers will be able to print all the components required to make a 3D printer.

Solar powered mobile phones. Blood tests you can run on your mobile phone. Designs for printers that produce pharmaceuticals. But these together. bioCurious.

Digital was the cocktail sausage before dinner.

You're creating an industry that is supposed to usher us into that world. JS Brown - nearly every social technology and business structure can't survive, and yet we're trying to educate people into those structures. Learning quicker than your competitors may be the only way to survive. The future needs a different model of education. Automation applied to an inefficient operation will just magnify that inefficiency - Gates.

We all want to innovate. We love innovation. It's amazing. All my clients want to do that. But what they want is innovation-wash - to appear to do it, without actually doing it.

We need radical change, but  most of us can't do it, because of the way we were educated. Sinclair - "it is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on not understanding it." Remember Wang? Remember Blockbuster. Big companies die because of their culture. Culture eats strategy for breakfast. None of the new technologies were developed by incumbents.

If it doesn't interact with you, it's broken. Publishing, medicine, manufacturing, energy - not just consumers, but producers. In education, it's about co-learning. learning is not a place - it's something that we are, something that we do. If you try to just recreate the place, you're not innovating.

Mass power is coming to you. And with power comes responsibility. With mass power, mass responsibility. That's why your work is so important. You have to become citizen and state. You can't predict the future, you can only prepare for it. The future is just a mirror, and asks us what kind of world we want. If we don;t look in that mirror and see a world of justice, and humanity, and compassion, we'd better be prepared for the consequences.

3 comments:

Your comments will be moderated. Sorry, but it's not a nice world out there.