It has been ages since I posted anything here…a combination of end of semester and work in the Center. Part of what has been driving me lately are strategic questions, and I have some for you.
For the past two weeks, I have been drafting a white paper on the state of the union regarding online education. It certainly has had me thinking strategically. I do not think that I am alone – it seems many are thinking strategically right now. I have been influenced by Stephen Downes’ “The Future of Online Learning,” the Landmark Project and its Big Ideas for Education, and the Sloan-C annual report, “Staying the Course – Online Education in the United States. Ken Allen, Laura Blankenship and Gardner Campbell also have me reflecting longer term with some of their recent posts. When I am further along on the white paper, I will post more about it.
Yesterday, Jeff Nugent and I joined about 18 other educators from around Virginia to help the Electronic Campus of Virginia do some strategic planning. ECVA is a cooperative effort of the state institutions of higher education to pool resources, learn from one another, and assist policy makers in formulating electronic policy for the state. In our meeting yesterday, we broke into four groups to examine:
- Assessment of Digital Literacy
- Fading and Emerging Technologies
- Open Source
- Virtualization / Cloud Computing
Gardner was a past leader in ECVA, and was tweeting about his current participation in the MIT Program for the Future conference – a timely event. The relevance of his tweets was a bit spooky! Jeff and I joined the group discussing fading and emerging technologies. Our first task was to define “emerging technologies.” Jeff tweeted:
It was a good question. As we often discuss here, what is emerging for us as early adopters is different from what is emerging for the masses in the middle. Historically, the early and late majority have been slow to adopt new technologies…and equally slow in letting go of old technologies. Early adopters on the other hand are quick to move on to some new technology and drop their latest even as the majority are starting to recognize what they are abandoning. Stopping support for fading technologies (think slide projectors and overheads) is even tougher. John St. Clair of University of Mary Washington used a great term yesterday when he noted that we sometimes need to “euthanize” technologies that are past their prime.
I wish that I had found Ray Sims post yesterday. I like how he framed his question of “In the context of enterprise 2.0, what items potentially demonstrate emergent behavior?”…
- Use cases for new collaboration and social software applications. I think back to my experience with wiki four+ years ago prior to having benefit of the seeds in wikipatterns.com. Then, we openly didn’t know what we were going to use the wiki for, but overtime, some “standard” use cases emerged. Now I see the same with some of the newer social software applications like Twitter, where not only use cases but syntax conventions (for @username and #hashtags) emerge.
- Shifts in company culture, including towards more openness and more innovation
- Shifts in the macro way that employees work
- Organizational networks, including new ties facilitated by social software applications, shifting demographics, and changing culture
- Folksonomy, emerging from content categories
- Increased visibility to the most valuable content, derived both from explicit ratings and from behavior (e.g. tagging, subscriptions, linking, and page views)
- Wiki page structures
- Definitions and terminology, including definitions of web 2.0, enterprise 2.0, and knowledge management beyond the original coinage — see for example the enterprise 2.0 definition exchange documented in the AIIM report
- Collective intelligence. I’m still sorting out in my own mind to what extent this term works for me, but I at least think it is better than AIIM’s “collective wisdom” — although the report also uses “collective intelligence”
- Perhaps software applications, or at least mash-ups. Is it valid to claim emergence here? Although in a common-language sense they are emerging, it really isn’t emergence in the sense of complexity theory.
Ray has some great points. We tend to focus in on tools and technologies, but what is really driving use is the culture established…and leaders are responsible for the culture.
As we circled around the topic, we kept coming back to the question of what resources drive our thinking. We had all been influenced by the Horizon Report from NMC. Jeff noted that when educators put lists together, they quickly grow to huge numbers, which few then digest. So we began to wonder, could we cull such lists down to the top five resources we should point policy makers towards to influence their decisions? We have great diversity in the edublogosphere, but we also tend to see common themes. Can we collapse those themes down to the five we would give to policy makers? What five resources would we want President-Elect Obama and the new Secretary of Education to read? We thought that the list would include these three as a start:
So my question to my readers – What would be on YOUR top 5 list? Use the comment feature below to add your ideas and voice.