Monday, December 12, 2005

Self-Organized Learning and Slashdot

New Educational Methods for Organizational and Enterprise Learning Derived from Self-Organizing Systems Theory and Practice (PDF)
This one is from one of the authors of the PerlMonk study I wrote about here earlier. I must admit that much of this talk about emerging and self-organizing systems goes right over my head (slime molds and crystallization?), but I did glean some value. The middle section describes the Slashdot community in interesting ways from an educational perspective, and the author's analysis of the kinds of learning taking place there is worth pulling a few quotes from:
"Rather, Slashdot content is complex and ill-structured (just like life), which requires participants to engage in higher-order thinking and in case–based, problem–based learning that is so essential for transfer of learning to new contexts."
"The subscriber base of Slashdot contains broad and deep expertise and curiosity. Peer review of ideas offered in Slashdot postings occurs almost in real time."
"Also, because expertise is distributed and varied, not central and uniform, the multitude of Slashdot participants are more intelligent than one or two content experts ever could be."
"Social interaction is essential in 'knowing how' to perform because 'learning how' is a social–dialogical process of negotiating tacit knowledge, through dialogues and conversation."
In his last main point, he focuses on the ease of induction into the Slashdot community, and I might have extended that further to say that you don't even have to become part of the community to learn from it, because the community is situated in the web. The sharing of news, opinions, advice and resources on Slashdot can benefit lurkers and searchers arriving from elsewhere, without them having to join up.


Elizabeth Murphy said...

You're exploring some interesting concepts here. And if you keep on searching you will find a lot more related concepts. So perhaps to set some "goals" for yourself, you might want to focus more specifically on a more central concept.

Perhaps that concept is social interactionism and the role of social networks in learning of which 43 things might be an example.

Elizabeth Murphy said...

You might want to focus your reading in this area:_”Social networks for learning”

Your theoretical framework would be in the area of social interactionism.
Your methodology would probably ethnographic be –maybe an exploratory case study of learning in a context of 43

Data collection-possibly observations and email interviews or a focus group or a group blog.

Here are some readings to get started:

Kids' Informal Learning with Digital Media An Ethnographic Investigation of Innovative Knowledge Cultures

Building Social Networks via Computer Networks:
Creating and Sustaining Distributed Learning Communities

networks for learning

evolution of social software

evolution of social software:

Jeremy said...

Thanks, Dr. Murphy. Are you meaning to imply that the lit review isn't simply a matter of following every rabbit trail until I slowly go insane?
: )

I think social interactionism and the role of social networks in learning is the general direction I'm going. I think I'm also going to have to integrate concept of goal-setting as part of the learning process in this context as well, at least if 43 Things is to continue to be the primary example.

Jeremy said...

Thanks for these links. The Berkeley study is fascinating and I found much in common with the challenges and approaches I've been seeing in my early investigation.

re: framework and methodology
Agreed -- I like your suggestions. It seems more aligned with the type of work I'd enjoy.

Elizabeth Murphy said...

re clarification on "following a rabbit's trail until..."

I'm recommending that you begin to narrow your focus more.
I suggested:
Social networks for learning
social interactionism.
social constructivism
digital ethnography

There will be a few other related concepts -communities of practice,virtual communities (possibly)

I don't know if you have tried cmap tools. you might want to represent those concepts above and some of hte others like social software and 43 things in a concept map.

You can see a video on concept maps from here:

Jeremy said...

Yes, I was kidding about the rabbit trails...and I appreciate this guidance. A concept map is an excellent idea. I tried starting one early on, but wasn't far enough into the process to do it properly -- now would likely be a better time.

Jeremy said...

Comment on this article from Stephen Downes...