I have dreamed for a long time of organizing our own MOOC. I was waiting to somebody to pay me for it, but nobody did. The challenge for in a MOOC is to facilitate a large group process online. We have just completed our knowmad MOOC with 637 people. ...

Click here to read this mailing online.

Your email updates, powered by FeedBlitz

Here is a sample subscription for you. Click here to start your FREE subscription

"The new social learning blog" - 5 new articles

  1. Doctors versus internet: who is better at diagnosing?
  2. How to organize for deep (not superficial) learning online?
  3. Whistle language Silbo is disappearing because of technology
  4. The happy selfscanner: lessons about introducing new technologies
  5. A new focus for my blog: the new social learning
  6. More Recent Articles

Doctors versus internet: who is better at diagnosing?

I have dreamed for a long time of organizing our own MOOC. I was waiting to somebody to pay me for it, but nobody did. The challenge for in a MOOC is to facilitate a large group process online. We have just completed our knowmad MOOC with 637 people. This topic was knowmadic working and learning. At a peaktime, there were 203 people online simultaneously. It felt like a continuous party. It has yielded many new insights and resources. We ended the MOOC with a live meetup (see pictures). In some blogs I will share the harvest. To start with...

Doctors versus internet
In December I watched the television programme dokters versus internet. In this program laymen with a laptop have to diagnose in a competition against doctors without a laptop. It was exciting to see how laymen could still figure out occasionally through Googling what disease the patient was talking about. While the doctors were sometimes on the wrong track of questioning the patient. This obviously undermines one's belief in the knowledge of physicians. Here's a trailer for the Danish version:

I definitely work and learn very differently than before the Internet. If my printer jams, I Google to find the right answers on support forums and always succeed. The influence of the Internet is huge. But I think it's still impressive that laymen occasionally beat the doctors in diagnosing a patient. What about the long education and experiences of physicians? And how did we hence work 15 years ago without the Internet? Many participants in the MOOC remembered the CD-ROM with the Encarta encyclopedia, the documentation centres with microfiches, the subscription to a magazine, the Yellow Pages. Now you can find a lot of information online, and scientific studies are becoming easier to find. As someone illustrates: "I have a closet full of books and literature, but in practice I would rather use the Internet because you can get much faster to the core of what you are looking for." If we would interaction with somebody far away we sent faxmessages back-and forth.

The doctors trauma: experts are no longer automatically the authority
The internet changes the relationship between a patient and the physician to turn it upside down. Patients will self-Google and exchange within communities. Doctors are no longer automatically the authority which looks at the patient and his/her illness and takes decisions alone. In a positive sense, the doctor can connect to the knowledge of the patient and diagnose more in-depth. Recent research  in Belgium shows that 91 percent of Belgians look up information about their ailments and aches on the internet. Four out of five discusses the results with his doctor, and that is appreciated only moderately by the doctors. Many doctors feel it as a threat that patients have knowledge and an opinion. Someone in our MOOC calls this the doctors trauma.. People are no longer looked up at them. However, patients sometimes also come with information that is not true, think of the information that vaccinations can cause autism. This general 'doctors' trauma also applies to other professions, such as trainer, coach or HRD professional. There is so much information available on the Internet: you have to be sharper on your added value. That can be scary. You will no longer automatically seen as an expert / authority, and that can affects your identity. You should focus more on developing a unique vision as professional and invest effort to obtain status and to be seen as a trustworthy source.

Hairdressers versus internet 
What is the impact of the internet on practical and applied professions? A MOOC participant is curious to see what would happen in the programme hairdressers versus the internet. Particularly in practical professions it is of course easy to find instructional videos. However, it still requires practice to master those skills. I would really not like going to a hairdresser (or a surgeon) who only watched some youtube videos.

Data, information or knowledge?
There were clearly different views about whether you can find knowledge online, or only information. Some people think that you can find information online, but not knowledge. Knowledge resides mainly in our heads. This is the typical view of knowledge management specialists. On the other hand, you can argue that you can currently find knowledge online. George Siemens sees in his theory of connectivism learning as a process of network formation and connection of nodes, not so much as a process going on inside the brain. Knowing where you get knowledge rather than peruse is important. Learning can also occur in non-human nodes. Knowledge is changing so fast that you need a network and need to know who knows anything, even more than you can find it.
"Know-how and know-what is being supplemented with know-where (the understanding of where to find knowledge needed)" (Siemens)
Personally, I think the line between information and knowledge has become more fluid as a result of our interactions through social media. We may share personal stories online, follow people through their blogs for years, have deep conversations online, see videos how a customer call is being done. We cannot simply label this as 'information' in my opinion.

Filter and focus
There is a wealth of information and it is flowing ever-faster. According to Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, every two days in 2010 there was as much information created as between the origin of the earth and 2009. This will be even higher now seven years later. The MOOC discussion shows how much we use online search. This however also raises the question of how to distinguish between valuable and less valuable info. How do you do that? Crap detection is important. Or, as someone says, it makes a big difference whether you get your medical knowledge of a blog, through social media, the yoga forum or a plant guru. What is true and what is not? Not all professionals are good at crap detection. Few education institutions have made crap detection central to the program. Howard Rheingold says: “Every man should have a built-in automatic crap detector operating inside him.” In crap detection by Howard Rheingold you will find all kind of practical tools and tips like the site  whois.net with information about ownership of webdomains and factchecker about the American politics.

The influence of algorithms - You are looking and we will find
And watch out! We do not only have to deal with crap detection, but also with algorithms. Algorithms make sure what is on the top of your information flows, eg in search engines or on your timeline on Facebook. Check out this explanation of algorithms (in dutch). Especially in social networks, but also in search engines algorithms determine what  you finally get to see. But we know little about the algorithms that Google uses. How do we become smarter than the algorithms? Still, by building and relying on a network of fellow professionals. Twitter is for instance quite algorithm- proof because you determine who you follow and those tweets surface in chronological order.


How to organize for deep (not superficial) learning online?

Last week I had a great time again during the Learning and Technologies Conference in London. My third time! Like every year, we started off in the pizzeria on Brompton Road. Great to network with people who are working in the same field. I was sitting next to someone I didn't know and within 10 minutes we were discussing the difference between performance support and social learning and the presentation style of Bob Mosher.

With Joke van Alten I decided to shoot another video. It is a form to support my own learning. I start with a question I would like to learn more about, interview people and in putting it together and blogging it, it forces me to really think about it. This year my question is:
How to organize for deep learning online? 
In my definition deep learning does not have to do with artificial intelligence (which is sometimes called deep learning as well), but has to do with transformative learning, or as Argyris calls it: double loop learning. Single loop learning is learning for action: learning within the same frame of mind. Double loop learning is about change of mental models, changing the goals. (see the explanation on wikipedia). When I talk about online learning, through networks like LinkedIn, Twitter or internal Enterprise Social Networks, people think this online is perfect for quick information, like finding a tool for brainstorming, knowing how to repare your printer. You can find a video online and start the action. But does online engagement also facilitate deep learning? For many people this is not obvious and they cling to the idea that you have to meet.

Joke and I interviewed Mark Britz, James Tyer, Laura Overton, Clive Shepherd and John Stepper. They all believe in deep learning online and each has a different angle in responding to our question.


Reflect and build a good network
Many answer from the point of view of the individual professional and underscore the importance of reflection and building a network of meaningful relations online. Mark Britz highlights the fact that typing responding online and blogging in itself creates room to reflect. James Tyer also stresses that you need to consume deeply. You may use your networks to cut out the noise, so that you can focus on what matters. John Stepper also stresses the importance of building meaningful relationships by working out loud. This is a set of learnable skills. I agree that often engaging with a network/ community over a longer period of time can be really transformative. You start to share the beliefs of that particular community.

Learning how to learn (and reflect)
Laura Overton sees that in their TowardsMaturity benchmark the successful, agile organizations are the ones that involve people in reflection and make sure what is learned is applied directly at work. Learning how to learn and close the loop is hence important for deep learning. Otherwise the pitfall is remaining superficially engaged.

Online doesn't control the pedagogy
Clive Shepherd takes the angle of designing blended learning. He highlights the fact that the pedagogy comes first and the medium (online or offline) second. He recognized our question in the sense that online is often used for lower level knowledge sharing or instruction. If you aim for transformative learning you need guided discovery and reflected experiential learning. You need to design for this.

ps last year's video centered around: what is really changing in the way we learn because of social technologies?

Whistle language Silbo is disappearing because of technology

I watched The Dutch comedian Javier Guzman on a lazy evening during the x-mas holidays, his shows is called Por Dios. In this show there is a story about the influence of technology I would like to share because it is really telling a story.

Javier explains that the shepherd on the isle of La Gomera have a  whistle language called Silbo. Through whistling the shepherds communicate with each other to upto 4 kilometers apart. It is actually a whistled sort of Spanish. It reminded me of the farmers in the Simien Mountains in Ethiopia who were also communicating from mountaintop to mountaintop by ordinary language. Anyway, Javier talks to the patron of this language and hears that with the advent of the telephone that language is dying. The moral of this story is that technology changes culture. (video in Dutch).


I have witnessed a similar phenomenon in Diré in Mali, with the advent of television. The Malians in Dire could always spend hours chatting. They would sit on the ground or on small stools, next to a tea pot. Tea would always come in three rounds, with increasingly strong tea. So you could easily spend 1.5 hours drinking tea together. About a month after we moved to Diré, the TV was introduced. The next time that we went to visit my Malian colleague we were not chatting, but watching television together. Here the same motto applies: culture changes through technology. It is not all bad, of course, because through the same television I can watch Javier Guzman ... Nevertheless, the change may be unstoppable, but something will be lost along the way. Two medals of the same coin?

The happy selfscanner: lessons about introducing new technologies

My supermarket introduced self-scanners. I'm not someone who is at the forefront of any new technology. For instance I'm secretly against the microwave ... Yet I've thrown myself into the self-scan adventure because it seemed a good experience. I would like to experience and compare myself with anyone in an organization that does not feel like using a new tool. In the supermarket I am the one not really interested in a new tool.

The first day after the opening as self-scan supermarket there was immediately a girl at the entrance who invited me to try out self-scanning. She explained how easy it was. I went first to the bananas to walk immediately stuck there. There was no code to scan on the banana ... and there was no one around. I chosen for other fruits. For the rest it was easy enought, although I felt quite stupid with such a large scanning device in hand. At the exit again there was someone to help me with the payment and exit. This was nice because I could ask her about my banana problem. She told me I could weigh bananas at the end.

The second visit I had real doubts about continuing to scan, it seemed pretty easy just turn to my old way and get my own bananas. I also did not feel that the self-scan had saved me time the first time. You do not have to wait at the cashier, but the lines are not very long. Scanning and searching the code also takes time. Perseverance helped me: I was nevertheless happy when the scanner indicated by sound when a second item was half price. Normally I wouldn't bother much, but now I went for the discount. When scanning a second article, I heard KATCHIENG a cash register sound. I made another banana mistake: I put the scanner back before weighing and I had to leave them behind... What I noticed is that I felt weird about loosing contact with the cashier. Even though I never have long filosophical dialogues with them. The third time I learned that you can pack up your bag during your shopping time which saves packing time. And you avoid the most stressful moment in the store: to pack your bag before the groceries of the next client are coming.  The fourth time I did this and I felt totally awesome! For the fifth time, it felt like a new way of shopping.

If I look at my experiences from a distance:

  • It helps if there are people to help and explain at the right times, but there are always moments when you have to fix it yourself.
  • The moment I almost pulled out was the second or third time. The first time I wanted to give it a try and try something new. The second time there was real reason. It felt good to shop in the old way.
  • I was when I found out I could put things in my bag while shopping that I saw an advantage. However, no one had told me about this advantage.

This scientific experiment (with n = 1) leads to the following conclusions about introducing new media in an organization, for instance a social intranet or a team tool like Slack.
  • Make sure there is enough help and support available to assist people, especially after the initial period. It is not difficult to convince people to give it a try, however to persevere? 
  • Do not underestimate what it takes energy to develop a new routine. It help to search motivations (which may be different for different persons). You could also point out that at the start it may demand more time, but saves time later.
  • Looking at the benefits. Which can be different for everyone, but you may beforehand test it, find out the benefits and emphasize those.
ps I hear now also other self-scanners with katjieng! I'm not the only crazy person anymore ...


    A new focus for my blog: the new social learning

    In 2005 I started this blog around communities of practice. It was a great way to investigate, learn and share my steep learning curve about communities online. I still love to work with communities (facilitate the LOSmakers), but somehow my work has become much wider.  I have been writing about many things which interest me, though mostly about learning and learning technologies. Going back to my first blogpost I became nostalgic about the clear focus I had. I decided to think through a new focus and I found it in the term: the new social learning. It is wider than communities of practice, though communities would still fit in as one of the learning interventions. I call it the new social learning (coined by Marcia Conner and Tony Bingham) not to confuse it with the fact that all learning is in fact social. It is funny when I read the book some years ago, I didn't like the term at all.

    My key interest is in how the way we learn is changing because of the internet and all social technologies and which new forms of learning evolve. When I worked in Chile, Mali and Ethiopia I was basically inventing everything by myself with a few key colleagues. I used to carry certain pages from books around. I had supervisors, but they were not all very interested and even if they were interested they were only interested in the progress, but couldn't help me with all my practitioner questions. Now I am inspired by so many practitioners from all over the world.. Through the 100 blogs I read, Twitter and LinkedIn groups.

    Here's a video I made in the beginning of this year interviewing people at the learning and technologies conference. Answers include - is has become self-directed: it not about what you know but about what you can find out; where, when and through what means we learn is changing; dealing with information overload become important, we can instantly find out what we need to know, and the question of whether we will even be learning if artificial intelligence can take over?


    The new social learning

    My questions to explore are:
    1. How does the knowmadic learner think, work and reflect? and what are the new challenges? What are the differences amongst different generations?
    2. What is the impact of new social technologies? What are new technologies like learning record stores and what can you do with those technologies?
    3. How does learning in (online, open) networks work? Changes as a result of technological changes?
    4. What are new learning interventions? Experimental or effective?
    5. What are practical examples of social learning in organizations?

    In short my categories will be:
    • Knowmadic learner
    • Social technologies
    • Networked learning
    • New learning interventions
    • Practical examples
    Sounds very structured isn't it? I hope this will also help you to make a decision to follow my blog or not. It will give me inspiration to look with curiosity for developments I see online or experience myself. 


    More Recent Articles

    You Might Like

    Click here to safely unsubscribe from "The new social learning blog."
    Click here to view mailing archives, here to change your preferences, or here to subscribePrivacy