Thursday, November 24, 2005

Snips for the book


Educause Review
July/August 2005
A fantastic issue dedicated to learning space design

As Malcolm Brown, of Dartmouth, states in Educating the Net Gen, "Net Gen students, using a variety of digital devices, can turn almost any space outside the classroom into an informal learning space."1 What, then, becomes the role of spaces such as faculty offices, hallways, plazas, courtyards, dormitories, and food service areas? Designers have traditionally studied courtyards, plazas, and hallways for usage and flow patterns. Learning space designers must now consider the instructional implications of these spaces. Although discussions about these spaces still need to be concerned with usage patterns, a more important issue is: What types of learning activities should be facilitated in these spaces, and what type of infrastructure is needed to support these activities?

If institutions are to achieve demonstrable gains in these five outcomes, students and faculty will need their facilities to support several fundamental activities that will occupy much of their time:

A typology for such specialized learning spaces might include the following:

  1. Thinking/conceiving spaces (spaces for deliberating)
  2. Designing spaces (spaces for putting structure, order, and context to free-ranging ideas)
  3. Presenting spaces (spaces for showing things to a group)
  4. Collaborating spaces (spaces for enabling team activities)
  5. Debating or negotiating spaces (spaces for facilitating negotiations)
  6. Documenting spaces (spaces for describing and informing specific activities, objects, or other actions)
  7. Implementing/associating spaces (spaces for bringing together related things needed to accomplish a task or goal)
  8. Practicing spaces (spaces for investigating specific disciplines)
  9. Sensing spaces (spaces for pervasively monitoring a location)
  10. Operating spaces (spaces for controlling systems, tools, and complex environments)

New mind-sets for creating effective learnscapes:
A bank disbanded its executive dining room…and found its executives had no place to schmooze

The culture Job Aid: express concern by “playing this card.” (Boss warns to temper it with respect.)
Stephen, on learning 2.0
elearn magazine,

E-learning 2.0 (10/17/05)

What happens when online learning ceases to be like a medium, and becomes more like a platform? What happens when online learning software ceases to be a type of content-consumption tool, where learning is "delivered," and becomes more like a content-authoring tool, where learning is created? The model of e-learning as being a type of content, produced by publishers, organized and structured into courses, and consumed by students, is turned on its head. Insofar as there is content, it is used rather than read— and is, in any case, more likely to be produced by students than courseware authors. And insofar as there is structure, it is more likely to resemble a language or a conversation rather than a book or a manual.

The e-learning application, therefore, begins to look very much like a blogging tool. It represents one node in a web of content, connected to other nodes and content creation services used by other students. It becomes, not an institutional or corporate application, but a personal learning center, where content is reused and remixed according to the student's own needs and interests. It becomes, indeed, not a single application, but a collection of interoperating applications—an environment rather than a system.

“Ownership” because it’s our lives we’re talking about.

Work backward from results, not from top down.

Little girls run the distance. At end, motivational feedback: You did great! At the new beginning, normative feedback like “This time run a little faster.”

Managers get no feedback. It’s fluency vs competency.

Most problems are lack of clear instructions and direction.

Forced card sorts. What do you need to do every day to fulfill the promise to your customers? 2nd Sort: Which are you doing? Which are you vaguely aware of? Which are under the radar?

No gurus, no norms…. Just what you said you want to accomplish.

Performance Express
by Donald T. Tosti, CPT, PhD

There are two approaches to HPT, or improvement in any situation.

Quality efforts focus on reducing variation by finding its cause and fixing it.

Engineering approaches, such as early HPT, focus on what improves or hinders performance.

Both have there place, but as Don writes, "The biggest difference is that engineering improvement focuses on means and enabling it, and quality improvement focuses on cause and eliminating it. Engineering solves problems more through analysis and design than through troubleshooting and repair, although both are accepted as legitimate processes."

Quality is popular. It promises managers cost reductions and greater efficiency. Because it sells so well, the tendency within our field is to allow ourselves to be solely defined as “fixers” rather than “innovators.”


Web 2.0 Design Patterns
In his book, A Pattern Language, Christopher Alexander prescribes a format for the concise description of the solution to architectural problems. He writes: "Each pattern describes a problem that occurs over and over again in our environment, and then describes the core of the solution to that problem, in such a way that you can use this solution a million times over, without ever doing it the same way twice."

The Long Tail
Small sites make up the bulk of the internet's content; narrow niches make up the bulk of internet's the possible applications. Therefore: Leverage customer-self service and algorithmic data management to reach out to the entire web, to the edges and not just the center, to the long tail and not just the head.

Data is the Next Intel Inside
Applications are increasingly data-driven. Therefore: For competitive advantage, seek to own a unique, hard-to-recreate source of data.

Users Add Value
The key to competitive advantage in internet applications is the extent to which users add their own data to that which you provide. Therefore: Don't restrict your "architecture of participation" to software development. Involve your users both implicitly and explicitly in adding value to your application.

Network Effects by Default
Only a small percentage of users will go to the trouble of adding value to your application. Therefore: Set inclusive defaults for aggregating user data as a side-effect of their use of the application.

Some Rights Reserved. Intellectual property protection limits re-use and prevents experimentation. Therefore: When benefits come from collective adoption, not private restriction, make sure that barriers to adoption are low. Follow existing standards, and use licenses with as few restrictions as possible. Design for "hackability" and "remixability."

The Perpetual Beta
When devices and programs are connected to the internet, applications are no longer software artifacts, they are ongoing services. Therefore: Don't package up new features into monolithic releases, but instead add them on a regular basis as part of the normal user experience. Engage your users as real-time testers, and instrument the service so that you know how people use the new features.

Cooperate, Don't Control
Web 2.0 applications are built of a network of cooperating data services. Therefore: Offer web services interfaces and content syndication, and re-use the data services of others. Support lightweight programming models that allow for loosely-coupled systems.

Software Above the Level of a Single Device
The PC is no longer the only access device for internet applications, and applications that are limited to a single device are less valuable than those that are connected. Therefore: Design your application from the get-go to integrate services across handheld devices, PCs, and internet servers.

Microsoft used to be a black hole from which no information escaped. Then they hired Bob Scoble. Scoble's popular blog didn't convert to an in-house adjunct of Microsoft marketing. In fact, it is still his personal deal, not a Microsoft publication. Scoble called it like he saw it, sometimes admitting that his company had blown it. He got anwsers. He began to put a human face on "the evil empire." Other employees set up blogs. Like Scoble, but unlike Sun, IBM, and Intel with their corporate-sanctioned blogs, three out of four Microsoft blogs are external. The prime directive to Microsoft bloggers: don't be stupid.

STOPPED at process thinking, an important post

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Learning chez Jay

Bias alert. I find Don Norman's work awesome. The Design of Everyday Things lifted the burden of clutziness from my shoulders. Emotional Design added concepts from Drucker and Ted Leavitt that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. My concept of the augmented learner shared a perspective with Don's Things That Make Us Smart. I was already chock full of Silicon Valley marketing concepts, so I didn't get much from The Invisible Computer. Turn Signals Are the Facial Expressions of Automobiles opens with a bunch of parents watching a school play. The dads will never see the real thing, because they are all looking at the tiny screens in their video cams.

I had talked with Don at conferences long ago, me talking to the celebrity, he would never have recognized me. Jerry Michalski and I had dropped by Ideo after hours to hear a presentation by Dan Pink. Perhaps three dozen people, maybe four, were in the audience, Don among them. Afterward, I explained that I was writing a book on informal learning. Could he spare me time to talk a few months hence? Sure.

Three months later, I arrived at Don's condo in downtown Palo Alto. I explained that I was having a hard time getting my arms around the topic. He quizzed me thoroughly. After 90 minutes, he diagnosed my dilemma. My topic was too big to get my arms around. Damn.

So I drove home somewhat dejected because my topic felt like an integrated whole. At least in my head. The next day I wrote Don thanking him for his generous counsel and guidance. But I was too feisty to let go, so I said that somebody had to do this, and it might as well be me. If I fail, it's hardly the end of the world. Don offered his support.

Marcia Conner coaxed me to slim this baby down, as did George Siemens and Clark Quinn. I was on that path until the conference I'm been taking part in the last three days. What had I learned? Messing with an entire nation's historic K12 education system is a head-twister of the first order. This time there are social, cultural, and religious issues. The first Sheik Nayahan settled in Abu Dhabi in 1793, but recent archeological finds suggests people have lived here for more than five thousand years. One anomaly is the distribution of wealth. The poor (mostly Indian and Pakistrani ex-pats) live a miserable existence.

How can I describe the wealth here? Remember Goldfinger and his gold covered Rolls Royce. If you could slap half a ton of gold on a big Rolls, how many cars could one Sheikh's riches buy? I figure it's three to four thousand cars.

There are more things I have just learned floating around in my head, but I've got a book to write. An hour ago I wrote an introduction for conferences attendees to sign up for our maillist. This may not fly.

At eMerging eLearning 2005, we began a conversation about some very big
issues. Our conversations focused on helping the UAE revolutionize its K12
education system. Thank you for taking part.

We unearthed some thorny topics, things like unwise uses of funds, low teacher morale, pockets of administrative incompetence, uninspired students, the status of women, and others. Segregation of genders is black and white here. Literally. Men wear all white; women wear all black.

I don't mean to complain. The UAE is one of the only places on earth where leaders are not thinking about next year, or the next election, or popularity contests, but rather a breath-takingly far-sighted vision of the future. The spirit of Sheikh Zayed continues to guide the nation.

At our World Cafe, borrowing from Bedouin hospitality, we welcomed visitors to join us in conversations that matter. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Please join me by taking your first step now. Cam will tell you how to "subscribe." Then you will automatically receive each day's messages by email. And of course, you can write and send messages of your own.

Give it a try. If you don't move out of your comfort zone, you will never adapt to future conditions.

At lunch today, perhaps intoxicated by a whiff of the Alba white truffles on my plate, I jotted down a list of potential chapters for the book. Tell me if you spot any real turkeys:

Bias alert. I find Don Norman's work awesome. The Design of Everyday Things lifted the burden of clutziness from my shoulders. Emotional Design added concepts from Drucker and Ted Leavitt that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. My concept of the augmented learner shared a perspective with Don's Things That Make Us Smart. I was already chock full of Silicon Valley marketing concepts, so I didn't get much from The Invisible Computer. Turn Signals Are the Facial Expressions of Automobiles opens with a bunch of parents watching a school play. The dads will never see the real thing, because they are all looking at the tiny screens in their video cams. This came back to me just yesterday:

Monday, November 14, 2005


I am jazzed. Looking back at the wiki we created during my workshop, I found this comment:

"One message I got from Jay's speech is the exponential acceleration of, not only the learning evolution, but the evolution of intellectual humankind. I feel enlightend and liberated. I am reminded of Plato's Cave. Imagine humankind finally taking away the chains on thier legs and necks, turning around to see that the traditional learning contents are but the shadows of the puppets manipulated by marionette players(instructors? unfortunately I am one of them.) Will we, among the first released prisoners(thanks to Jay), become one of the intrepid pioneers to walk toward the light from outside of the cave, and "dive in" the realities of the world?"

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