Sunday, August 30, 2009

Bradwell's Edgeless University

Peter Bradwell identified the term edgeless university. It seems that something comes up daily that moves us closer towards identifying further trends towards what Bradwell defined as the “Edgeless University.”

What is the Edgeless University? It is identified as follows:

“that the function they perform is no longer contained within the campus, nor within the physically defined space of a particular institution, nor, sometimes, even in higher education institutions at all.”

Bradwell, the author of “The Edgeless University,” for DEMOS identified the following trends that will, , impact education these include, I also added one or two to the list:

1. Open repositories of online content

2. Social Media Networks like Facebook, Twitter

a. Increased collaboration of people who are not geographically co-located

3. Semantic Web tools

4. Use of Virtual Learning

5. The economy

6. Increase in numbers of students

7. Open course ware/open education resources

8. Open and free universities

9. New ways of accrediting learning

10. Open scholarly journals: information is now more searchable

Taken one at a time how have these trends, tools or circumstances moved education closer to the concept of the “Edgeless University?”

1. Open repositories of online content have been around for years with the advent of in 2000. Now you can do a search for open course ware in general or discipline area specifically and find a plethora of resources.

a. Some of these are as follows with their mission or state purpose following:

i. Lecture Fox

1. Lecturefox is a free service. You can find high-quality classes from universities all over the world. We collect without exception lectures from official universities, and we have a special interest in lectures from the faculties physics, chemistry, computer science and mathematics. In the category “faculty mix” you can find miscellaneous lectures from other departments like electrical engineering, biology, psychology, economics, history and philosophy.

ii. Academic Earth

1. Academic Earth is a repository of video lectures from educators at Yale, MIT, Stanford, UCLA. Their mission is, in part; Academic Earth is an organization founded with the goal of giving everyone on earth access to a world class education.

iii. Flatworld knowledge

1. From their website they state: We preserve the best of the old - books by leading experts, rigorously reviewed and developed to the highest standards. Then we flip it all on its head. Our books are free online. We offer convenient, low-cost choices for students – softcovers for under $30, audio books and chapters, self-print options, and more. Our books are open for instructors to modify and make their own (for their own course - not for anybody else's). Our books are the hub of a social learning network where students learn from the book and each other.

2. Social Media, networking tools such as Twitter, Facebook, Myspace

a. Defining their roles in education has been blogged about, research however I believe they have yet to be applied enough by a critical mass in education in order to determine their effectiveness in education.

b. That being said the number of users demonstrates that the use of these sites is gaining ground every day. While this may not necessarily mean that users consistently use the sites but more importantly that they have access to and the skill level to be able to use them in some manner for education or a tool similar to them.

i. A list of the sites and the number of registered users can be found at this Wikipedia site.

3. Semantic Web Tools:

a. Sites such as Twine

b. A full listing of Semantic Web Tools is here at Sweet Tools

4. Use of virtual learning

a. Growth in online

i. Affordability and availability of learning management systems

b. Online Education Database

c. Virtual Worlds for learning

d. Increased informal learning

e. Mobile learning

i. Studywhiz

ii. Brainhoney

iii. Driven because of ubiquity

5. Economy

a. Having a well educated population facilitates the economy of a country/nation

b. Improves quality of life

c. Secures the country’s role on the global stage

d. Improves a nation’s ability to work its way out of a recession

e. Also reduces a university’s ability to work raise funds for capital projects

6. Increase in the number of students

a. Driven by the economy and a demand in increased technical skills we will see people commit to lifelong learning more than ever before.

7. Open Courseware/Open content

a. MIT’s open courseware initiative

b. Open Education Resources : OER content is made free to use or share, and in some cases, to change and share again, made possible through licensing, so that both teachers and learners can share what they know.

c. Open Courseware initiative

8. Open and Free Universities

a. Peer 2 Peer

i. From the website: Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU) is an online community of open study groups for short university-level courses.

b. University of the People

i. From the website: University of the People (UoPeople) is the world’s first tuition-free, online academic institution dedicated to the global advancement and democratization of higher education. The high-quality, low-cost and global pedagogical model embraces the worldwide presence of the Internet and dropping technology costs to bring collegiate level studies to even the most remote places on earth. With the support of respected academics, humanitarians and other visionaries, the UoPeople student body represents a new wave in global education.

9. New and acceptable ways of accrediting learning

a. Certifications

b. Assessment

c. Projects/activities

d. ePortoflios/Portfolios

e. Employer certification

10. Open Scholarly journals/research

a. Directory of Open Access Journals

b. Open Access Journals in Education

c. Highwire Press Stanford University

This list is by no means comprehensive, but it does illustrate the bits and pieces of Bardwell’s Edgeless University being in place and coming together. The resources are available for a university to become edgeless, to be global, to be open they harness and organize this is fundamental to future success.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Flocks, Twines and Aardvarks OH MY!

We have had the industrial age, the information age, and what some have dubbed as the knowledge age..I propose that what we are now entering is the first phase of the Social Everything Age...I just received in the mail a book entitled Socioeconomics, by Erik Qualman Social Media, Social Networking, Social Learning----on and on! Or perhaps we are entering the Semantic Age which is difficult to define as I am not sure that a singular definition of Semantic has been identified yet..but perhaps that isn't important various definitions of Semantic are as follows:

Semantics is the study of meaning.

Semantics: is of or relating to meaning, especially meaning in language

Further searches on the term Semantic Web lead me to this:

Semantic Web is an evolving development of the World Wide Web in which the semantics of information and services on the web is defined, making it possible for the web to understand and satisfy the requests of people and machines to use the web content

For more in-depth reading on the Semantic Web I suggest reviewing A Semantic Web Primer by Grigoris Antoniou, Frank Van Harmelen available in Google Books.

I started this post with a single purpose of writing about Twine. I am using Twine as a social bookmarking tool, but have engaged in discussions with others which lead me to the conclusion that they found it to be much more. In the process of using it as a social bookmarking tool I started to join Twines, add items and interact with others. However the single purpose of focusing this posting on Twine lead me on a safari. I entitle this a safari because In the process of discovering Twine I also discovered Flock and AardvarK!

While I was thinking and planning this post on Twine I was reading about Semantic Tools from a feed in Google Reader and was reading about a Semantic Web tool called Aardvark. I signed up for Aardvark and based upon my personal interests I was quickly connected to a network of people who shared similar interests as me. Because was researching for this post on Twine I asked my network if they had any experience in using or applying Twine for education purposes, I swiftly receive a response back via Instant Messenger (which is also integrated with Aardvark as an option when you sign up). That response/dialogue is as follows:

I've been Using it since the beginning, and it's a great resource to aggregate pages of interest for a group or team; you can all add to a twine or have the twine aggregate from keywords or many other options. It's inherently social. I'm not sure how you would integrate it into a curriculum, but what education level are you interested in using it for?

this would be at the college or university level. I thought if you could use discipline specific content from the web and put it into a twine the students could then access the content there and discuss/make comments on addition current/related content could be added if seen as appropriate.

That seems like a perfect paradigm; as long as the guidelines for suitable content are explicitly defined there should be no problem: the comment system combine with individual aggregation of pertinent topics seems like something conducive to focused topical learning.

This dialogue occurred late on a Friday night, now I am excited to see what kind of discussion I could get going on a higher traffic date and time. I did find Jordan's responses very helpful. One can't help but be astounded that you can have this sort of exchange by firing a shot in the dark on an obscure topic almost instantaneously.

In the process of doing all of this I also came across Flock...One glance at the website and I realized this was a tool that I could my attempt at defining this I will just say it's a "web browser for your social networking sites." I will work more on defining the application of Flock on the future but I am excited by it.

Twine was first rolled out in October 2007 as a semantic bookmarking tool by Radar Networks. There were many press announcement heralding this roll out, however by March 2008 writers in Read, Write Press were already expressing disappoint in the tool.

From a June 1 article in Fast Company by Dan Macsai about Twine I learned that:

Founder Nova Spivak...stated that Twine is: "Digg ... on Ritalin." Twine's unique visitors have grown more than 40% each month since its October 2008 debut, topping 80% in February 2009 -- more than 1 million uniques."


Based upon the article and my experience in using Twine it works like this:

You can join or establish your own threads, or "twines," centered around specific ideas ("social media"), people ("Barack Obama"), and events

Users fill them with content found around the Web.

The site then tracks the articles they add and the topics they follow, and assembles an interest-based personality profile.

Based on what Twine learns about you and the users in your shared Twine..., it sends you news and friend recommendations

Example of the Twine Digest:

50 Social News Websites You Can Use « SEO-INRA's Blog
Bookmark added by at 11:01 AM CDT
There are a great deal of social news sites on the Internet, sometimes too many. Most of them are dormant and are no longer active, largely because they were poorly marketed and hence, never had an active community of users in the first place.

Why Adults Have Fed Twitter's Growth - Bits Blog -
Bookmark added by at 05:34 PM CDT
But one big reason for the disparity is simple: When Twitter became popular, teenagers already had their favorite Web sites for communicating, so they were not interested in a new one. The people who discovered Twitter were adults who were new to social networking.

Eco-friendly Human-based Energy Production
Bookmark added by at 06:01 AM CDT
As we are squeezing every bit of our lives to save on energy, some radical ideas pop-up, asking why don't we produce energy from our everyday deeds . Watching my two kids in the playground, I thought about the opportunity cost of the energy their crazy games could produce. It was a funny idea, ...

Memristor minds: The future of artificial intelligence - tech - 08 July 2009 - New Scientist
Bookmark added by at 05:55 PM CDT
EVER had the feeling something is missing? If so, you're in good company. Dmitri Mendeleev did in 1869 when he noticed four gaps in his periodic table . They turned out to be the undiscovered elements scandium, gallium, technetium and germanium. Paul Dirac did in 1929 when he looked deep into

As you review this posting I want you to be aware that these are things that I put together in a matter of a few hours, reviewed, had a dialogue with individuals and all at my "fingertips.." I am sure you have had similar experiences, however I am of the generation or background that is amazed by having all of this at hand.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Formal and Informal Learning

Dennis W. Cheek, PhD stated and many others also state that learning is at the very core what it is to be human, it is what humans do.

One could state that learning is learning whether it is defined as informal or formal and that it is the documented achievement of quality indicators that give learning credibility. Is it tangible evidence that the learning has successfully competed a learning task or achieved a learning objective that provides the learner with the credentials necessary to provide evidence of educational attainment.

What are the specific definitions of formal and informal learning that delineates between the two? Formal learning may be defined as learning that takes place with in a teacher-student relationship, however from this definition there is clearly no guarantee that this type of learning guarantees a student the type of documented credential necessary to demonstrate that he/she has achieved the learning outcomes.

Perhaps Jay Cross gives the final definition on both formal and informal learning as:

Learning is formal when someone other than the learner sets curriculum. Typically, it’s an event, on a schedule and completion is generally recognized with a symbol, such as a grade, gold star, certificate or check mark in a learning management system. Formal learning is pushed on learners.

By contrast, informal learners usually set their own learning objectives. They learn when they feel a need to know. The proof of their learning is their ability to do something they could not do before. Informal learning often is a pastiche of small chunks of observing how others do things, asking questions, trial and error, sharing stories with others and casual conversation. Learners are pulled to informal learning.”

Further definitions of informal learning are:

Informal learning is semi-structured and occurs in a variety of places, such as learning at home, work, and through daily interactions and shared relationships among members of society. For many learners this includes speech acquisition, cultural norms and manners. (retrieved from August 25, 2009)

Informal Learning – Occurs in everyday life and may not even be recognized as learning by the individual. For example, using a television guide may not be equated by an individual as having learned how to use a table. Related concepts/terms include: incidental learning.(retrieved from August 25, 2009)

undamentally the question to be asked may be —Should we recognize or accept informal learning and if so how do we measure achievement by the student towards certain learning objectives or outcomes? Furthermore who sets these standards and how are they assessed? Is that sort of learning measurable and how? Through a review of portfolios, assessments, projects and activities?

There are many barriers to recognizing informal learning as credible and documenting achievement of learning objectives through informal learning.

There are many resources available for a learner to access in order to pursue hs/her informal learning goals. These resources include podcasts available on Itunes U, Videos on You Tube Edu Channel, MIT’s open courseware, OpenCourseWare Consortium, Academic Earth, and the learner may also want to access learning object repositories such as Merlot. We should not overlook repositories of online documentaries, the Internet Archive, and sites like Connexions.

The challenge that lies before the education community in my opinion, is how best to assess informal learning. It seems that this is a change that we cannot resist, so it will benefit the self-directed learning and educational institutions to facilitate the validation of such learning.