Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Power-law distribution and openess - Be brave take the jump.

Have you heard of the 'Power-law distribution' law, it asserts that 80 percent of productivity within an organisation or company will be done by 20 percent of employees, or in other edu-blogging terms 80 percent of edu-blogging within an educational organisation will be done by 20 percent of edu-bloggers and that's being incredibly optimistic (80% itself could be quite low output!) Hold that thought.

‘You’ve got to be crazy if you want to start a wiki operation from scratch you have got to have a sustainable community’
Wayne Macintosh Wikieducator
As before with the LMS software, many educational organisations look to invest time and money into in-house systemisation of technology with the vision of staff collaborating and sharing information and creating learning resources with colleagues within the organisation, for example through an in-house installation of a technology such as media-wiki or wordpress blog on their own server.

Fair enough, but is this sustainable? Probably not based on ‘Power-law distribution’.

Why bother with in house software installs? Some valid reasons to...

  • Enable closed environments for privacy
  • Provide storage space
  • Enable protection of IP
  • Protection of staff from the open internet
  • Market courses and service
  • Aggregate staff as part of a learning group
  • Have control off the content and who views it...
As Wayne Mactintosh of Wiki educator alludes in his above statement the reality is it's hard work, costly and difficult to achieve sustainable community interactions which continually motivate contributions from members.

No matter what technological solution the organisation invests it's time and money into as per the 'Power-law distribution' law they will still be reliant on a limited pool of enthusiastic innovators to develop skills and expertise and share with the rest of the organisation.

Whereby 20% of staff (If your're lucky) will do the edu-blogging work in addition they will probably want to forgoe the carefully executed in house system and do their own thing using whatever technology they choose to keep up with the ever changing e-learning market. This is a good thing for organisation innovation.

So where is the sustainable profitiable and quality educational solution to the 80:20 problem for the progressive education organisation looking to implement edu-blogging and networked learning systems for their staff?

Support for any of the open learning mediawiki systems such as http://wikipedia.org/ that have an active community base, contributors and flow of vistors look set to provide a sustainable and business solution for organisation's that recognise the benefits of taking the road less travelled and systematically going open.

For example, it's early days but the business oppportunities are out there for the early adopters of http://wikieducator.org/ which has:

  • 4000 visitors per week and rising (Sep 07)- great organisational branding and marketing opportunities
  • An active communtiy of techies fruther developing the wiki educator platform for free
  • Free hosting of content
  • Anything you add to wiki educator you actually own the copyright, wiki educator doesn’t own the copyright you still retain the copyright and your intellectual property rights
  • Uses Creative Commons Share Alike licence. Which is a good thing because you get to leverage outside contributors innovations within your organisation saving time and money...

In terms of cost effectivess and achieving business objectives systemisating the use of open teaching and learning technologies such as wikipedia and wikieducator for accessing, marketing and developing your organisation's educational resources under creative commons is a sound business and educational decision.

    'Its all about numbers'
    Leigh Blackall - 'Otago Polytechic
    I recommend listening to this recording of Wayne Macintosh's visit to Otago Polytechnic to discuss all things wiki educator for educational organisations.

    Wikieducator and Otago Polytechnic

    Currently the Illawarra Institute and Otago Polytechic is looking to implement a trial project with the Tourism and Hospitality Faculty to implement a business and education model using wiki educator (More to follow).

    So why bother with time an money on house systems? Obviousily closed in house systems make sense in terms of protecting senstive information, managing aspects of child protection, managing assessment results, creating group learning environments...

    From a business point of view will organisations with in house investment in edu-blogging technology enable co-creation co-sharing and co-collaboration on educational resource work in a cost effective profitable AND sustainable manner over a number of years? Maybe if the community members personal relationships are good... but probably not.

    If the the vision is for sustainable collaboration and sharing of information within an organisation the future is open and networked using tools such as wiki educator and wikipedia and creative commons licencing networking with the other 20% of innovative edu bloggers from other organisations. Be brave and take the jump to openess.

    Friday, August 31, 2007

    People Learning Management: Learnscope 07 postcard

    A 'People Learning Management System' utilises a variety of Web 2.0 communication tools and real life meet-ups to aggregate people to come together around a particular subject, task, problem. A PLMS emphasizes the idea of the person as a learning object rather than the traditional LMS model where of the value in passive consumption of learning object resources.

    • This active ad hoc hands on communicative approach to professional development and learning in general requires top down management and teaching that enables rather than controls the activities of staff and students.

    • A structured framework of scheduled AND informal activities mapped against the curriulum and individuals learing plans. This to form a student's and teacher's e-portfolio of their learning within the organization.

    • A People learning system is flexible and has both chaotic and organized communication using a flexible variety of ad-hoc tools agreeable to the community of individuals and their learning plans. The common denominator for ALL activity is the curriculum around which activity sheets can be developed for other community member to follow.

    The screencast video is a prototype example of how we âre using an ad-hoc variety of Web 2.0 tools and processes to achieve this purpose based on some of the ideas from the Learnscope 2006 teacherConnect project see below.

    Other underpinning links:


    • Focus on authoring activity sheets within organisations.

    • This is where the valuable IP and services are to be offered. Focus on linking to and authoring resources using free online tools on the open internet.

    • This is where the valuable cost savings, quality, concurrency and professional connections with others and business will be made.

    Monday, May 21, 2007

    I am a Learning Object - Empowerment through each other

    Conversation with Vicki Marchant around the concept of the person as a learning object and the systemisation of learning, top down management that enables rather than controls, a bottom up 'People Learning Management System' that aggregates people to come together around a particular subject, task, problem...when needed.
    I'm lucky enough to be going to the ILTA Edtech conference in Dublin! this week. Looking forward to Don Dron's discussion on Designing the undesignable around the systemisation of social software where he'll be presenting on:
    'A range of technical, procedural and pedagogical ways of influencing, rather than designing, learning ecologies are provided, so that the tensions between top-down and the bottom-up control may be resolved and social software can play a significant and integral role in e-learning.'
    Hopefully this will provide me with a better understanding of how to address the issues, the cultural shift which is very much needed to make bottom up enabling culture work...

    Tuesday, April 17, 2007

    Madness -The price of property in Sydney - April 2007

    The Sydney Morning Herald Magazine cover story was 'What does 400K get you within Sydney'. 400k+ gets you a two bedroom apartment, if you're lucky, that's 400k + for a two bedroom apartment! Ridiculous!

    Here's a great of spitting image political satire from 1989, the time of the last major UK housing correction.

    This guy talks about the factors leading to a property crash, very informative. :-( Aspirational home ownership for first home buyers has never felt so frustrating.

    Tuesday, April 10, 2007

    The importance of activity sheets (The glue that binds the network?)

    The glue that binds the network

    I'm appreciatively following the implementation of Learnscope's new wiki and Leigh Blackall's participation in the Tectonic Shift Think Tank in Vancouver.

    Am also looking forward to the education.au seminar 'Challenging how knowledge is created' with Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia.
    It seems Media wiki is set to become an embedded piece of software across the education sector (Fingers crossed).

    MediaWiki (free software wiki package originally written for Wikipedia) is a great solution as a central node for connecting educators within an education organisation.

    I've worked previousily on using wikispaces to connect teachers as part of a central organistion node for networking ; The idea: link a profile to a network to a network , no boundaries...this had some degree of success, but little uptake and sustainability... now consider the importance of activity sheets for this aim.

    I think media wiki has potential at a basic level as the central node for knowledge sharing; we're now looking to raise the value and advocate the publishing of activity sheets within an organisation node.

    In particular through teachers using media wiki for authoring Activity sheets that achieve stated outcomes and link to resources from the open internet, a la, google docs , wikipedia, wiki university, wiki, educator, wikispaces…using any number of tools and resource freely available on the internet.

    The reasoning:

    • Activity sheets provide the context and direction and importantly the process to participate in activities, link to resources and free media utilising a variety of media and publishing tools.
    • Activity sheets can be mapped against learning outcomes and performance criteria and recontextualised by other teachers
    • The language of education is about activity sheets, session plans and curriculum.
    • The activity sheet does not have to be about a technology, it can be about any process, any learning outcome with or without technology a la the capability life based learning approach, (the media wiki being the central node and SIMPLE publishing tool for all, I think we have to divorce the value is in the utilisation of technology, it’s only means to an end).
    • Provide simple standard activity sheet and session plan guidelines for your organisation staff. These can be utilised within hands on professional development for groups and individuals.
    • Ideally all organisations publishing activity sheets should be advocated as policy on a central node with a searchable backend that links to curriculum documentation. Curriculum being a common denominator to connect all organisation staff.

    Hands on activities are the glue that binds curriculum, people and their, application of technology and capability development processes. People using any number of tools, all linked to and authored from a central node, in this case mediawiki.

    Innovations can occur as others continualy refine and improve the processes outlined within activity sheets on a central wiki.

    Focus on authoring activity sheets within organisations. This is where the valuable IP and services are to be offered.

    Focus on linking to and authoring resources using free online tools on the open internet.

    This is where the valuable cost savings, quality, concurrency and professional connections with others and business will be made.

    Thursday, March 15, 2007

    ZOHO Creator - Online databases made easy

    For those of you desire to create that database you've always needed but would rather not wrestle with Microsoft Access tables, queries, primary and foreign keys relationships, reports and sql queries, ole data objects... along comes another free Web 2.0 application,to make your working life that little bit better ZOHO Creator - http://creator.zoho.com/

    Have just had a play, simply create the required fields and specifying the data types. ZOHO Creator also includes a great 'Upload file' field and nifty calendar field.

    When you are ready ZOHO Creator creates the online form with its own url, this can be public or private by invite only.

    In addition ZOHO Creator provides
    • Easy to use search criteria based on your form data
    • RSS Form feeds to track the data input
    • Embeddable code to insert your form into your blog, wiki...
    I really recommend this tool.