Tag: Dave Cormier

Badges: talking at cross purposes?

Over the weekend I had a discussion with Dave Cormier in the comments section of my DMLcentral post Gaining Some Perspective on Badges for Lifelong Learning. I wanted to capture it here and add a couple of additional comments.

Dead Parrot Sketch

Dave seems to have taken issue with the ‘over-simplification’ of badges. I think he’s arguing that (informal?) education is too complex a problem for badges to be the solution.

The more I think about it, the more I think we were talking at cross-purposes. He was (again, I think) talking about explaining complexity whereas I was talking about solutions towards solving complex problems. I may be wrong.

Additionally, I have read precisely zero articles or books on complexity and chaos theory. Dave probably has read lots.

I’d love to know what you make of it.


Dave:

Hi Doug,

Thanks for the foil. Everything i see here, however nicely argue and layer out, still leads to the same thing. Someone has to agree on what the targets are.

In the ‘automatic/skill’ sections, they are only automatic in time, at some point, someone had to create an artifice that separates the world into things that ‘can be reached’

In the application/Community section, the rewards are going to be as much about sociality and power than they will be about ‘recognition’. The problem with the badge in this case, is that it divorces the ‘reward’ from the context of power and sociality.

I don’t see how any of your practical applications allow us to apply badges to complexity. Given this… we move things towards simple knowledge. This is not the direction I”m hoping to go in… how about you? Do you see a way that badges can support complexity?

Doug:

Hi Dave, thanks for the comment.

In response:

1. For something to be credentialised there has to be a ‘thing’ to be credentialised. That can be a target set by anyone – but yes, there needs to be a target. Otherwise there’d be no point in the credential, right?

2. I find the ‘X will be Y’ part of your position problematic. As I’ve argued above, I see badges as an emergent ecosystem. I agree there’s going to be issues around power and control. But then, *every* system has those issues. Don’t they?

3. I believe that the ‘answer’ (if there is one) to complexity is simplicity. It’s something tangential to badges, as far as I see them, but to assume that complex problems require complex answers needs a bit more explanation/evidence to my mind.

I’d love to discuss this synchronously sometime. ๐Ÿ™‚

Dave:

Hey Doug,

1. Credentialing requires a thing to be credentialised. Maybe not… at least not rings in terms of small pieces of knowing. I’m not purposefully trying to split hairs here, but I feel comfortable with someone who knows how to do something saying “that person over there can now do this thing”. That’s how mentorship and apprenticeship tends to work. We went down the DACUM road, for instance, to try and break that into pieces that could be ‘things to be credentials’. Many colleges have moved away from this because it kinda misses the point of knowing things. I see badges as a potential return to the DACUM view of the world.

2. Badges may or may not be part of an ’emerging ecosystem’ whatever that might mean, but no, not every system has the same issue. Some systems try to leave things IN their context so they can be understood as part of a whole. Others are designed to REMOVE them from context. I think that’s pretty different.

3. I don’t know what “simplicity is the answer to complexity” could possibly mean… so i’m assuming we don’t mean the same thing when we say complexity. If answering the question “how do I raise my child to be a good person” (in my mind, a very important, and obviously complex question) has a simple answer I’d love to hear it.

I imagine the ‘parenting badges’ that would be the response to that, and I imagine them forcing ‘parenting types’ and ‘parenting stages’ and ‘child types’ and ‘child stages’ on the world.

Doug:

Hi Dave,

1. So the person over there who can now do this thing gets the Dave Cormier seal of approval. That may or may not be a badge. I don’t know.

2. I’m unsure of your point here – especially given that there’s an evidence layer to badges? Isn’t that the context right there?

3. I’m guessing you haven’t got a parenting manual. Certainly my two didn’t come with one. So I’m approaching them with love. A simple answer to complex behaviours. Working OK so far…

I’m definitely *not* of the opinion that badges are the answer to everything. Nor do I believe that badges should replace the existing qualifications/credentials/awards we’ve got. What it *does* provide, however, is an alternative that we all get to shape.

And I can’t see how that’s a bad thing. ๐Ÿ™‚

Dave:

Well… a little rhetorical bantering and heart string tugging.

On twitter… you say “i’m falling into the either or camp”

Whether i am or not is not relevant to the discussion here. It’s a nice rhetorical move, but it doesn’t change the discussion. I have concerns about badges and the oversimplification of knowledge and attainment particularly as it decontextualizes power, social-ness and privilege.

1. Yes. a dave cormier seal of approval (assuming a community thought i knew anything) would be just fine. I don’t think that’s ‘badge’ as you have defined it here. Badge, as I understand your interpretation, is an ‘agreed upon standard’ by some standard agreeing upon group.

2. No. an ‘evidence layer’ is not what i mean by context. Context is the space in which the learning/knowledge/thingy was negotiated. Not the ‘things that the standards group decided was evidence’.

3. Love is a very nice sentiment… but all it means is that i have to move to a different example. How about the world energy issues or something else. Do you comune with love to decide whether it makes sense for you child to have a cupcake… or do you think about the balance between their wanting it and enjoying it and the sugar it contains.

I have in no way suggested that they aren’t an interesting option we should try. You have read that on to me. I have said that in your commentary you haven’t addressed complexity. You have responded by saying ‘complexity doesn’t exist, your jus tasking the question wrong’.

If that is your position… cool. But is it really? Do you really think the world is a simple place where simple answers to questions like poverty, overpopulation, education i the third world will actually work?

I got asked recently “how do we go about training 500 million new people in the next 9 years?’ Complex problem. Simple solution?

Doug:

Hmmm… this is exactly the kind of thing I want to avoid. :-/

“I have concerns about badges and the oversimplification of knowledge and attainment particularly as it decontextualizes power, social-ness and privilege.”

If you say that ‘X means Y’ and I disagree, then we’re falling into opposing camps. Neither of us can point to any evidence. Because there isn’t any. Yet.

“I have said that in your commentary you haven’t addressed complexity. You have responded by saying ‘complexity doesn’t exist, your jus tasking the question wrong’.”

Where/when did I say ‘complexity doesn’t exist’? I’m fairly sure I said that the way to approach complex problems is to try to apply simple solutions. That’s vastly different.

And the answer to your question about training 500 million people in the next 9 years? One person at a time. Not as facetious as it sounds. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Dave:

doug.

Re: x means y. There is always and never evidence. I have described how i think it moves towards the simplification of knowledge. Badges are not exactly ‘new’ in concept just because they’ve been branded differently.

re: complexity – if you are saying that ‘there are simple answers’ then we aren’t using the word ‘complexity’ the same way. If you say ‘apply simple solutions’ you are changing the meaning of complexity. Something that is complex, like a weather pattern, doesn’t have a simple explanation. If you say it does, we’re having two separate conversations.

Saying it has a ‘simple solution’ is saying it is not ‘complexity’.

If it’s not facetious, i don’t know what it is. 1 at a time isn’t not a scaling solution for India’s education problem.

Doug:

I’m not quite sure how we got from alternative forms of credentialing to weather patterns, but hey.

You’ve subtlely shifted from ‘solving problems’ to ‘explaining them’. They’re two different beasts. I can go to umbrellatoday.com to solve my immediate problem of whether to take an umbrella to work with me or not. I don’t need to explain how weather systems work to do so. It’s a simple solution to a (potentially) complex problem.

I don’t think India’s education problem has much, if anything, to do with badges directly. If you’re saying that it’s an example of a complex problem then, yes, I’d say that you/they/whoever are looking at it in the wrong way.

I’m out. Perhaps we could follow this up with blog posts? ๐Ÿ™‚

Have YOU got any comments on our discussion? I’d love to hear them!

Image CC BY-NC-SA Dunechaser

PS The exchange inspired Terry Wassall to write this post.

The Pre-Digital and the Post-Digital.

Postdigital

Sometimes two pieces of writing from very different sources complement each other so well that quoting from each in the right order tells the story without superfluous words from the person doing the juxtaposition. These quotations are taken from Seth Godin’s Pre Digital (2011) and the 52 Group’s Preparing for the postdigital era (2009). All emphases are mine.

The intersection of technology and the social has often been a driver of social change. The mainstreaming and mass production of powerful digital tools has had a profound effect on the way that we live and learn. These digital tools have allowed us to speed up communication, publish our thoughts in any number of ways and allowed for new complex forms of collaboration. The speed and reach of this transition has had a profound effect on what it means to be a participant in society. The speed of the change, however, has left us with the mistaken belief that social change was somehow ‘created’ by the digital rather than simply played out on a the canvas of the digital;ย that the digital itself is the main driver of change. We would argue the opposite. (52 Group)

School is pre-digital. Elections. Most of what you do in your job. Even shopping. The vestiges of a reliance on geography, lack of information, poor interpersonal connections and group connection (all hallmarks of the pre-digital age) are everywhere.

Perhaps the most critical thing you can say of a typical institution: “That place is pre-digital.”

All a way of saying that this is just the beginning, the very beginning, of the transformation of our lives. (Seth Godin)

The transition to a postdigital way of thinking allows for that previously coded as ‘digital’ to be woven into the wider discussion of social dialects that people bring to their acts of collaboration… Texts have been recorded in spaces like Facebook and MySpace that have previously been the content of private conversation and casual face-to-face interaction. We have the (mis)fortune of having a record of the social grooming of our time, which, sadly, is often misinterpreted as a degrading our our social intellect. It is a manifest record of the facile “Hi how are you? Fine thank you”s of the older generation, which, when recorded 6 billion times might appear facile, but is, in reality, simply a confirmation of social connectedness worn smooth in repetition. (52 Group)

Postdigital aims to throw off the yoke of digital dogma, where the language of a perceived digital elite drives not only development, but also skews innovation, where innovation is only seen as being that associated with the “latest” technology… Innovation in a postdigital era is more effectively articulated as being associated with the human condition and the aspiration toward new or enhanced connectedness with others. (52 Group)

The 52 Group were/are made up of Dave Cormier, Richard Hall and Lawrie Phipps, amongst others.

Update: Also Dave White, Ian Truelove and Mark Childs (thanks to Dave Cormier in the comments)

Image CC BY gcbb

Change MOOC – #change11

After seeing several MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) come and go over the past couple of years, I’ve decided to play a part in a new one being facilitated by Dave Cormier, George Siemens and Stephen Downes.

What’s a MOOC?

Allow Dave Cormier to enlighten you:

What do you have to do?

Pretty much anything you like. To paraphrase from change.mooc.ca

This is an unusual course. It does not consist of a body of content you are supposed to remember. Rather, the learning in the course results from the activities you undertake, and will be different for each person.

This type of course is called a โ€˜connectivist’ course and is based on four major types of activity:

  1. Aggregate
  2. Remix
  3. Repurpose
  4. Feed Forward

When a connectivist course is working really well, we see this greate cycle of content and creativity begin to feed on itself, people in the course reading, collecting, creating and sharing. It’s a wonderful experience you won’t want to stop when the course is done.

And โ€“ because you can share anywhere โ€“ you won’t have to. This course can last as long as you want it to.

The schedule consists of people who are pretty much who’s-who in my corner of the digitally-connected world; I’m particularly looking forward to:

  • Week 3 – Martin Weller (Digital Scholarship)
  • Week 9 – Dave Cormier (Rhizomatic Learning)
  • Week 17 – Howard Rheingold ([How] can [using] the web [intelligently] make us smarter?)
  • Week 25 – Stephen Downes (Knowledge, Learning and Community)
  • Week 30 – Alec Couros (Facilitating Networked Learners)
  • Week 33 – George Siemens (Sensemaking, wayfinding, networks, and analytics)
  • Week 34 – Bonnie Stewart (Digital Identities & Subjectivities)

That’s because these are people I know will provide interesting stimulus material and sound guidance. However, I’m also looking forward to being surprised by others!

MOOCs have a structure that allows you to dip in and dip out. This course is running (at least) until 20th May 2012 so there’ll be times when I can pay more or less attention. Given that I’m handing in my thesis in the next 14 days I should, on average, have a whole lot more time on my hands to get involved.

Why don’t YOU take part as well? It’s a great way to meet new people and think through new ideas!

http://change.mooc.ca

On the glorious weirdness of connecting with people online.

It’s rare in this fast-paced world of Twitter and synchronous communications to come across high-quality reflections on how we connect online both professionally and personally. The video below, put together by D’Arcy Norman with contributions from the likes of Dean Shareski, Jim Groom and Barbara Ganley, is 15 minutes long. It’s absolutely worth your time – watch it now:

How do you connect to people online? from D’Arcy Norman on Vimeo.

Connecting with people online is, in a sense, a very strange experience. I can know a lot more about someone that I’ve never (and probably will never) meet in person who lives on the other side of the world than I ever will about a work colleague. In fact, as I’ve often commented to people when doing this, I think meeting people online actually leads to better relationships than if the situation is reversed.

For instance, this might sound silly but I’m always very careful never to wear my glasses when meeting people for the first time. Why? I don’t want them to pigeon-hole me. The next time they see me and I’ve got my contact lenses in I’m the guy ‘not wearing his glasses’. It’s a perception thing.

Meet people online, however, and it’s almost a window into their soul. One thing I find fascinating is people’s choice of avatar on Twitter. Some people choose to have an image of themselves to aid recognition when people meet them in person. Others change their avatar often. The people I’m interested in, though, are people like me: people who stick to one avatar and use it everywhere they go online. Presumably that’s because their avatar says something about them. Here’s a few by way of example from people in my Twitter network – what do you think their avatar and bio says about them?

@lisibo

@lisibo

Primary MFL teacher, ADE, eTwinning Ambassador, speaker and blogger, improving techie and generally enthusiastic gal who loves her iPhone

@durff

@durff

[no bio]

@gsiemens

@gsiemens

Changing the node set…

In the video embedded above, Dave Cormier talks about the ‘light’ connections we make with people and how these build up over time. I think this is what D’Arcy Norman (author of the video and, as of last month, no longer on Twitter) and Stephen Downes (a one-way user of Twitter) don’t get about social networking. Yes, 140 characters may be all too brief. But if I connect with you 50 times over the course of a few days, having had to craft each message to fit within the 140-character constraint, I bet we know each other a whole lot more than we did previously. And then you can go and look at my Flickr stream, my blog, etc. for more background. It’s not a replacement, it’s complementary.

Knowing an individual’s personal background and beliefs helps you judge when making decisions on whether to follow their advice and/or lead. But that’s not always best done only on the strength of meeting them face-to-face. I, for example, am much better (in terms of being coherent, understandable) when expressing myself using the written, rather than the spoken, word. Most connections online these days inhabit a world that is partly synchronous, partly asynchronous.* People may respond straight away to something you put online, or they may respond hours, days, weeks, months, or even years later. Because online content is an implicit open-ended invitation to give your opinion and make comment, you can do so at your leisure. This promotes thinking and drafting when blogging, and iterating towards your actual opinion when using tools such as Twitter.

People who haven’t seen videos or listened to podcasts in which I feature are often surprised when they meet me in person. For a start, I’m often younger than they thought (one person commented that they assumed, because of my avatar, that I was ‘a fat, balding, forty-something’ – thanks!) People also don’t tend to realise I have an, admittedly diminishing, Northumbrian accent – replete with the rolling R’s. I’m all for personality and individuality, but sometimes these two factors – my age and my accent – have proved to be barriers in the physical world. Not so online. ๐Ÿ™‚

So an ode to the internet and the connections it makes. No, scratch that. An ode to the people who give up their time to connect to people. To those who make my life better by contributing, questioning and criticising my work and my thinking. It’s great to have and to be part of an active audience!

* There’s probably a word for this, but I don’t know what it is!

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