OER on Facebook lets nodes of knowledge friend each other

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Posted on 1st December 2010 by Judy Breck in Findability | Next

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Wired Campus reports: British University Offers M.B.A. Courses on Facebook. From the article:

Facebook has changed the way students, faculty members, and administrators communicate outside the classroom. Now, with the introduction of the London School of Business & Finance’s Global MBA Facebook app, Facebook is becoming the classroom.

The Global MBA app—introduced in October—lets users sample typical business-school courses like corporate finance and organizational behavior through the social-networking site. The free course material includes interactive message boards, a note-taking tool, and video lectures and discussions with insiders from industry giants like Accenture Management Consulting and Deloitte. This may be a good way to market a school, notes an observer from a business-school accrediting organization, but it may not be the best way to deliver courses. . . .

The remainder of the Wired Campus article muses about the efficacy of Facebook as a venue for offering courses. More relevant to the future of learning is the small size of the unbundled nodes of “OER” (open educational resources) the article describes. In the networking structure of Facebook, a node (a lecture, a discussion with an expert) can have a life of its own. One node can show up in lots of different places and many patterns of other nodes. Nodes, in a real sense, friend each other. When that happens we get a glimpse of the emergent future of OER.

Education needs an emergence wake-up call

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Posted on 19th June 2010 by Judy Breck in Findability | Next

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As emergence shook biology loose from physics in the 20th century, emergence will pry preconceived curricula from the natural networking of knowledge. So far, the education establishment has shrugged off the emergence of knowledge online, and hence is blithely unaware that human learning is entering a global golden age.

Paul Davies described in Edge, how scientists have had to stop shrugging and work to understand the reality and power of emergence:

Although scientists have long had an inclination to shrug aside such questions concerning the source of the laws of physics, the mood has now shifted considerably. Part of the reason is the growing acceptance that the emergence of life in the universe, and hence the existence of observers like ourselves, depends rather sensitively on the form of the laws. If the laws of physics were just any old ragbag of rules, life would almost certainly not exist. [First published as an OpEd piece by The New York Times, November 24, 2007]

Davies writes from the perspective of complexity science, which includes the probing of networks. In the 20th century, as DNA was understood and the functioning of biology was studied at increasing depths of complexity, physicists were toppled from their kingship of science. Emergence, Organization & Dynamics of Living Systems (as the Santa Fe Institute calls it) has taken a place next to physics in our understanding of science and the cosmos. We are overdue in placing emergence as a pillar of pedagogy.

The rise of the internet has caused what is known by humankind to relocate into the network matrix formed by the open internet. Because knowledge itself is a network — as is our brain where we use and emerge knowledge — knowledge does what comes naturally when it gets into the internet: it emerges. In an elegance too beautiful to be untrue, knowledge on the internet resonates with knowledge in the learning mind. They mirror each other as the mind learns and thinks about the emergent knowledge it encounters online.

The education establishment did not create online emergent knowledge anymore than the physicists created emergent life. Both are discoveries. Knowledge has always emerged in our minds — but very new is the internet matrix where knowledge can emerge virtually for us to study and learn.

BTW: Social networking is something entirely different than the networking of knowledge. Both are huge for learning. Social networking, as it relates to education, has to do with people interacting about knowledge. Emergent knowledge is about algebra interacting with calculus, French history emerging from Roman Gaul, the ecology of rice connecting to theories of famine — all the stuff like that which is known, learned, and thought about by humankind.

Human networking blinds educators to the internet’s prime gift to learning

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Posted on 3rd May 2010 by Judy Breck in Findability | Next | Schools we now have

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Until educators see the difference between human learning networks and knowledge networks the internet’s biggest gift to education will continue to be missed. Sure, it is great for students to network among each other in their lessons. But forget that for a bit and look here at something else.

In the illustration above some to of the relationships of historical events and factors are linked in a network. You are not looking at something a textbook can do: what you see takes an open network to form the relationships and emergent patterns! Until the 21st century no such medium for studying knowledge existed. Now look at what has happened:
- Everything known by humankind is embedded in the open internet!!
- The internet is an unlimited network of nodes that can be linked by relationships, right or wrong.
- Spontaneously — through use by knowledgeable people — the best patterns of links emerge so everybody can find them (the core idea of Google).

No one even knew these kinds of networks existed until 1998 when they were discovered. For the past decade, network science has become a major factor in many other sciences. Biology is a prime example. The American Revolution image above was adapted from the cover of the current issue of the Journal of Cell Research.

So where are the educators? Mostly they are chopping up subject knowledge into grades and standards, and printing them in textbooks . When they talk about education networks it is in terms of people — not how nodes of knowledge relate to explain The Shot Heard Around the World. Educators are long overdue in using the natural network ability to organize, vet, and emerge human knowledge.

RESPONSE TO COMMENT ONE: Only stuff like some living molecules and human knowledge — stuff that is inherently, structurally a network — will form patterns in an open network matrix as we now have in the internet. Pedagogy, for example, is seldom network compatible. The stunning surprise education has missed so far is how what we know and teach is, itself, a network. But then, that makes sense when you think about it: what we know is the product of the human mind, which is a network too. Human knowledge — like relationships in the American Revolution — learned by the mind from the internet is a matter of mirroring between two networks. Gorgeous!

NatureNews now open in the online knowledge commons

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Posted on 26th March 2010 by Judy Breck in Findability

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With the announcement today, “We’ve set the news free,” Nature takes another big step toward being the dominant cluster of science knowledge within the network that forms the commons. By making all of the news pieces free, Nature is releasing nodes of current science into the complexity of emergent online knowledge. Network laws can then manage these nodes cognitively so they become part of relevant patterns of knowledge to study and learn online.

An example of what that means will be the trajectory of a NatureNews story from last week called “Scientists supersize quantum mechanics.” That story is already prominent, showing up as number three on the list of search returns for “quantum news” on Google. There is more: Because NatureNews is opening its full Archives, the quantum story will remain in the network of ideas for as long as it is not replaced by a more elucidating and/or current story. Eventually, the story will fade as it is replaced by more current reports on the subject it covers. Teachers and students can stay informed of the latest in many sciences by connecting to  NatureNews RSS feeds.

Although they have set the news free, many underlying articles at Nature remain limited to paid subscribers. That will change because those articles, when they are locked away from the commons by subscriptions, are downgraded by not being able to participate in the network that forms the online knowledge commons.

Machinery of Life — and of knowledge

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Posted on 25th March 2010 by Judy Breck in Findability | Schools we now have

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Very recently, scientists have been discovering how life operates at a molecular level. BIOCURIOUS is a terrific place to keep an eye on this work. The scientists there have been posting on the subject since 2005, including writing and illustrating The Molecule of the Month. A review last fall of David Goodall’s The Machinery of Life is an example of the excellent molecular knowledge openly available at BIOCURIOUS.

As government education clings to standards, grades levels, curricula, and textbooks, science has created a grand open commons online of presentations of what it known in many fields. Molecular and other sciences that are discovering the mechanisms of smaller and smaller biological bits as they create and sustain life present a remarkable model for how knowledge forms online.

A crucial step for future education is to appreciate and harness the connectivity of molecules of facts and ideas to understand how their patterns emerge knowledge. These inherent processes in networks make knowledge findable. Regrettably the machinery of networked knowledge pretty much gets ignored by old school educational resources.

Will the content of the internet become a living brain?

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Posted on 18th March 2010 by Judy Breck in Findability | General | Next

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A concept came up today in my email discourse that I quoted in my last post. My friend asked me what I thought about this concern, which is quoted from a New York Review of Books article: “the digital cloud will merge or be merged — will  ‘mash up’— to form a single, communal, autonomous intelligence.”

What follows was my response that I wrote to my friend. It is relevant in a major way to handschooling and the connection it provides to students to what is known by humankind, now networking in the digital cloud.

As to the cloud turning in a brain, I have never seen how folks make that leap. I have been challenged with the idea for decades. When I was a child, my science prodigy older brother assured me that robots would reproduce themselves and take us over. The AI people have been trying to make a fundamental step that has eluded them for a very long time. But I do not see how any of that is even an issue in relocation of “the sum total of what is known by humankind” (from a Webster’s definition of knowledge) into the open internet. That sum total can be expected to elegantly organize itself online as the network it is — rejecting junk and exhibiting idea patterns using the best nodes.

If you were to take the knowledge bits now embedded in every curriculum, textbook, library, specialized human brain — breaking everything into separate bits — and dumping them all into the open internet, what do you think would happen? Would they mash themselves together in weird ways and begin thinking on their own? How can anyone suppose something like that? There is no basis and no mechanism given.

What is absolutely amazing is that in the past 20 years, that dump has actually happened! The relocation continues to greater and greater levels of detail — such as now the contents of thousands of printed book flowing online as searchable hypertext. The contents of the enormous virtual dumping ground are not turning into a thinking giant. What are they doing? Ted Nelson put best: “Everything intertwingles.

The result is a complexity in which emergence causes the best bits of, for example, algebra to link to each other and rise to the top of search engines. Order out of chaos is what to expect from intertwingling — not autonomous intelligence. The junk falls away as networks of the best nodes link into meaningful patterns.

The blogosphere is a clear demonstration of these network vetting laws at work. There are millions upon millions of blogs, with only a few gorillas in any topic (note the long tail effect). The fact that this natural network vetting is not how educational resources are selected is scandalous. (Contrast ongoing Texas textbook wars).

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