Tuesday, 31 May 2011

The Digital Cognitive Apprenticeship - afforded by a rich learning environment

The idea of talking about a digital cognitive apprenticeship arose around the time Hugh Davis and I made a presentation to the HEA Enhancement Academy team leaders meeting* in May 2011. Although the concept has much deeper routes linking back to the concept of university education providing a 'cognitive apprenticeship' time when I  was working with Microcosm across the university to provide 'a campus wide structure for multimedia learning'.


Fast forward almost 20 years and the world is a lot more interconnected and a big focus for us is in terms of personal learning environments, where the title of our presentation was 'The personalisation of a learning environment: student-led connections online and offline'. The link will take you to the slides in ECS ePrints at Southampton.

The presentation in many ways was a chance to reflect upon and discuss our understanding of personal learning environments and the UK digital literacies agenda. We were particularly fortunate in having an audience drawn from colleagues who are actively involved in steering their institutions through change.

A lot of work has been going on to craft our own rich learning environment here at Southampton since I posted an account of what I mean by Rich Learning Environments late in 2009

Along the way, the University of Southampton has been among the front line of folk who have been surfing the open data wave - its a wave which is well on its way to becoming a veritable tsunami launched by Tim Berners-Lee's call for 'Raw Data Now' at his TED talk in 2009

We have been working with colleagues on creating a specification for our learning environment, and have reported on that project via a publication in the International Journal of Virtual and Personal Learning Environments (forthcoming) but a pre-print is available online from ePrints.

Our ultimate objective is to craft an environment which cultivates and supports situated and authentic learning with a community of scholars in a digital world.

We are seeking to harness the affordance of Web 2.0 and use linked and open data to integrate internal and external resources and services in a seamless manner.

We put a special value on enabling our academics to work with their students accessing authentic resources so that learning in their respective disciplines and fields of study can be situated.

We hold true to the idea that our university is nurturing a continually renewing community of scholars and again believe that we can craft the tools of social and (light) semantic web technologies to provide a platform which is agile to respond to changing and emerging techniques and technologies, a system which is fit for purpose in the 21st century.

We believe that our approach to situated and authentic learning addresses the agendas which are grouped under the headings of digital literacies, but we prefer to refer to the skills knowledge and understanding of a digital world. Hence our reference to the digital cognitive apprenticeship.

It is the role of universities to nurture the thought leaders and decision makers of tomorrow. Out students come to use with a mix of sophisticated and naiive understandings of the way in which they can use technology for their learning. If that was not the case, they would not be ready for a university education - we are no longer in an era when we believe knowledge is the prime objective (if that were ever true). Alvin Toffler was remarkably prescient when he observed that

"The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn",

our apprentices will, we hope, progress to master all of the essential skills, knowledge and understanding so they can step forward with confidence into whatever future they choose to pursue.


Casquero, Oskar, Portillo, Javier; Ovelar, Ramón; Benito, Manuel and Romo, Jesús. iPLE Network: an integrated eLearning 2.0 architecture from a university's perspective. (2010) Interactive Learning Environments, Volume 18, Issue 3 September 2010, pages 293 – 308

Fournier, Helena & Kop, Rita. (2010) Researching the design and development of a Personal Learning Environment, Proceedings of the 2010 PLE Conference, CitiLab: Barcelona http://pleconference.citilab.eu

O'Reilly, T. (2005). What Is Web 2.0 – Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software  http://oreilly.com/web2/archive/what-is-web-20.html

O'Reilly, T. (2007). What is Web 2.0: Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software, Communications & Strategies, 1(1),17-37 http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1008839

Santos, C. and L. Pedro (2009). Sapo Campus: A Social Media Platform for Higher Education. m-ICTE 2009: Research, Reflections and Innovations in Integrating ICT in Education, Lisbon, Portugal, FORMATEX: Badajoz, Spain.

White S. (2009) Rich Learning Environments, University of Southampton http://shirleyknot.blogspot.com/2009/12/rich-learning-environments.html

White, Su & Davis, Hugh C. (2011). Making it rich and personal: crafting an institutional personal learning environment, International Journal of Virtual and Personal Learning Environments, In Press. http://eprints.ecs.soton.ac.uk/22030/

White, Su & Davis, Hugh C. (2011) Rich and personal revisited: translating ambitions for an institutional personal learning environment into a reality. In: The Second International PLE Conference: PLE_SOU, July 11-13th 2011, Southampton, UK. http://eprints.ecs.soton.ac.uk/22140/

Southampton’s SLE Project http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/research/projects/749

*You can find a blog post which talks about the event at The Auricle


Sunday, 15 May 2011

Web Science Meetup - Consolidating networks of excellence

More than 20 folk managed to get to Montpellier for the second Web Science meetup which managed to run the gauntlet of Friday the 13th :-)
There was a reassuringly wide range of disciplines represented - and accordingly a fairly broad range of topics were up for discussion.  The group was convened by Clement Jonquet and Francois Scharffe using meetup and has arisen from the collaborations which we are establishing between the University of Southampton and LIRMM in Montpellier France. The meeting provided an opportunity to identify some of the common research agendas active in the Web Science community in Montpellier and its networks in France and Europe.
These notes are designed to help find out more about the presentations - expect further posts on future developments. There are also notes on the meetup page from Clement and on Clare Hooper's blog.
Slides from the presentation are, where possible going on the WebScience Meetup Wiki at LIRMM
After an welcome from Clement Jonquet, Stefano Cerri and Hugh Davis, and introductions round the table, the proceedings got underway.
People and interests - this is notes with links on each of the presentations where possible
Claudia Rodda (American University of Paris) talked about Human attention in digital environments which is the title of the book which she has recently edited and published.
Clare Hooper (TU Eindhoven) - talking about mixed methods and triangulation. Issues that some disciplines have pre-formed ideas about what research methodology is 'sound' and what is not.  These arguments are key given the interdisciplinary nature of the web, and smacks of academic tribes and territories to my mind. Clare pointed to the recent CACM blog on the topic of Are we doing stats badly, and I was reminded of the paper by Halford et al in the 2010 web conference A Manifesto for Web Science?
Francois Scharffe (LIRMM) - talking about the data lift project (http://datalift.org/en/index.html)DataLift Project which is being funded by the French National Research Agency which is developing tools to enrich raw data through conversion, interlinking and publication into semantically accessible formats. Their previous presentation at SemWebPro in Paris 2011is also interesting
keynote from Wendy Hall (University of Southampton) @DameWendyDBE - who will also be giving a keynote at adaptive hypertext in Eindhoven.
Wendy placed particular emphasis on the extent to which the vision and dogged persistence of Tim Berners-Lee and his commitment to open and free standards.
Her account gave an excellent consolidated overview of the various research agendas which have emerged within web science
Excellent news is that there will be a web science track at the next web conference WWW2012 to be held in Lyon 16th to the 20th April 2012. It looks like the track will be run on the Friday, Wendy will be chairing the track and the montpellier meetup group will also be convening another meeting (also in Lyon) at the same time now scheduled for April 20th :-)
Her presentation concluded with a call /ambition for a world wide web science observatory: gathering evidence, sharing: data, tools, methods, and techniques. Questions which such an observatory might collectively address include:
  • is the web changing faster than our ablity to observe it?
  • how to measure or intrument the web?
  • how to identify behaviours and patterns?
  • how to analyse the changing structure of the web?
  • how can we measure the web, and to archive the data - so that it can be analysed today, tomorrow and forever?
This prompted me to recall the visualisation google search globe -  is just one instance of a small piece of evidence - visualisation of the source of languages used for google searches which might be a part of such an observatory.
A very interesting session on Philosophy and the web was given by Alexandre Monnin, @aamonnz, @PhiloWeb http://web-and-philosophy.org slideshare philoweb
This contribution produced some lively discussion (pretty good considering it was after lunch) the discussion of web architecture took us firmly into the space of understandings of what the web is.
Alexandre is PhD student from Paris, where Harry Halpin currently has a two year fellowship to write about Philosophy and the Web - rich ground indeed. Alexandre gave an impressive persormance for someone who has not yet even got his doctorate, I expect we will hear more from him in the future.
Vincent Douzal from LIRMM was next up discussing webscience and traceability a natural hazards scenario
Interesting presentation which raised issues which are very much in the space of persistence of data and raised references to Ted Nelson for the second time in the day - probably a reflection on the fact that there were a good set of Hypertext folk in the room.
Sankar Punnaivanam and Alain Krief from Namur - talks about EnCOrE (Encyclopédie de Chimie Organique Electronique) - which reminded me of the presentation of automatic semantic enrichment by David Shotton from Oxford which I heard at an ALPSP event in 2010 titled Ready for Web 3.0 where I was presenting on how linked data can benefit higher education.
I was chairing the final session which brought together some of the work and perspectives on the web science curriculum. It was a tough job to squeeze in all the remaining speakers, since the programme had been a little indulgent in its timing over the afternoon.
Les Carr presented a stimulating perspective on the state and future direction of Web Science, which he explained as deriving to some extent from what he had learned from teaching the web science master's at Southampton. The roots of this presentation can be traced back to a very stimulating paper Could the Web be A Temporary Glitch which was part of the Web Science 2010 conference proceedings.
Among the quotable quotes which came from Les...
"the web is a performance - ICT = Informing and Communicating Technology"
(it must be good it was retweeted by Tony Hurst @psychmedia; how is that for hubs and authorities in action ;-)
Les also quoted his twitter definition of web science
webscience: The study of the technologies & policies that supports the co-construction of a linked online environment by a networked society
There was plenty of food for thought in this presentation - as ever with Les, not to mention gallons of energy which were a welcome addition towards the end of a long day.
Madalina Croitoru presenting some details of the Web Science curriculum project which will be topic of a paper to be presented at the 2011 ACM Web Science Conference in Koblenz this year.
Claudia Rodda raised questions about how to implement interdisciplinary in a curriculum.
Paul de Bra presenting about the bachelor degree in Eindhoven University of Technology which begins in Autumn 2011
The final slot from Hugh Davis was rather squeezed but did allow sufficient time to point to the work done by folk at the web science trust on the SKOS web science curriculum. His slides for the slot also include information on the way we are teaching our Web Science masters  in Southampton
Note, these last few are all very relevant to the debate on Web Science Subject Categorisation. http://webscience.org/2010/wssc.html
Follow up activities:
Web Science 2011 Koblenz
next Web Science meetup
workshop proposals for WWW2012
Tweet visualisations:

Croitoru, M., S. Bazan, S. Cerri, H. C. Davis, C. Jonquet, G. Prini, F. Scharffe, S. Staab, M. Vafopoulos and S. White (2011). Wscd: Negotiating the Web Science Curriculum Development through Shared Educational Artefacts. ACM WebSci '11. Koblenz, Germany. http://eprints.ecs.soton.ac.uk/22141/
Carr, L., C. Pope and S. Halford (2010). Could the Web Be a Temporary Glitch?. WebSci10: Extending the Frontiers of Society On-Line, Raleigh, NC: US., Web Science Trust. http://journal.webscience.org/304/

Halford, S., C. Pope and L. Carr (2010). A Manifesto for Web Science? . WebSci10: Extending the Frontiers of Society On-Line, Raleigh, NC: US., Web Science Trust. http://journal.webscience.org/297/

Hooper, C. (2011). Towards Designing Effective Systems by Understanding User Experiences. ECS, University of Southampton. PhD.

Shotton, D., K. Portwin, G. Klyne and A. Miles (2009). "Adventures in Semantic Publishing: Exemplar Semantic Enhancement of a Research Article. ." PLoS Computational Biology 5(4): e1000361. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000361

Friday, 13 May 2011

The two magic's, memes and technology affordances - a case for purposeful appropriation

Two Magics
Way back in 2007 Tim Berners-Lee spoke about the two magics - the phenomena associated with the fact that the web - an artificial construct established by a set of microscopic rules has macroscopic outcomes.
Tim Berner-Lees's Two Magics

Briefly the concept of the 'two magics' is associated Tim's concept of 'Philosophical Engineering'. The magics are a manifestation of the observation that the web is a socio-technical system in which we observe many different emergent phenomena where there is a cycle of inter-related developments.
The technology is engineered - a system is designed and implemented and we observe social and technical impacts.
Depending on your perspective the way in which the social and technological interact can be interpreted different ways (see Halford et al, 2010 'Towards a manifesto for web science', for some insights into this debate)
Tim states that the term 'magic'  is used as a short hand term to label 'stuff you don't understand' (yet)
The bit of this idea which I am thinking about now is that, we observe that some of the phenomena associated with the web work and unexpectedly go viral.

My Perspective - affordances and internet memes - a case for purposeful appropriation
Generally my approach to understanding and analysing change and the interactions between technology and society takes a 'technology affordances' perspective after Gaver (1991, 1996). But more and more I am developing the idea of promoting 'Purposeful Appropriation'. The idea is similar in some ways to the idea of modelling behaviour - but of course I am not talking about behaviour I am talking about ways that we successfully use the web. With purposeful appropriate you observe some successful phenomena on the web. You analyse the underlying drivers for that success, you purposefully take (appropriate) the same approach, but you apply it in a different field, perhaps with additional insights which are appropriate to the new field.
Consider the case of Facebook. They observed that google made money by selling advertising as a side activity associated with the purpose for which people were drawn to their site. They also understood that in the advertising world demographics is valuable. Their social network initially constrained the demographic of their population (university grads at successful institutions), subsequently they have but significant effort into gathering data on the demographics (and behaviours) of their users, which they can use to target/personalise the adverts which are presented to their users, and presumable thereby achieve a better hit rate and higher advertising revenues.
We observe that ideas and behaviours spread in a way that is associated with the internet. Sometimes those are in the area of jokes or fashions like RickRolling or LOL Cats. Susan Blackmore popularised the idea of memes in her book on the topic, and had extended the ideas talking about Internet memes and technology memes (Temes).
You can find a few links to memes and accounts of their role knowyourmeme.com, memedump.com, or  memebase.com
But we also observe that 'Google' has become a verb, and as such it is a a term which encapsulates a set of behaviours and assumptions which has behind it a model and expectation of the way our information world exists both in the physical and virtual. We observe in many different ways that the internet, mobile communications and technology infrastructures - and the need to solve particular problems give rise to varied and interesting solutions. What I want to do is to think about the fundamental technology affordances which are associated with these solutions and see how they can be applied in the area of social and educational innovation away from their original context.
For this reason I find it useful to follow a fairly mainstream podcast from the BBC where the correspondent Peter Day looks at change and business across the world. The ideas and phenomena which are being reported are not in the research lab, they are being used and apparently they work - which is what makes them interesting - to some extent they have already moved from the micro to the macro. Which means they might be worth appropriating in another context!
Links and examples:
Peter Day's podcast  is an easy way of stumbling across interesting snippets, he gets to a whole lot of places....
Peter Day's Podcasts - interesting series of programmes which often addresses new business models - eg micro payments in indian subcontinent, credit unions and affordable business loans in developing countries
An example of language translation
Not sure where I picked up this story originally, but there is some interesting use of mobiles and micropayments for translation services in africa
The same story was also featured in this blog, which is all about crowdsourcing :-)  the latter article also have various links to related writings.
GAVER, W. W. (1991) Technology affordances. Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems: Reaching through technology. New Orleans, ACM Press.

GAVER, W. W. (1996) Situating Action ii: Affordances for interaction: The social is material for design. Ecological Psychology, 8111-130.
BLACKMORE, S. (2010). Dangerous Memes; or, What the Pandorans Let Loose. Cosmos and Culture: Cultural Evolution in a Cosmic Context. S. Dick and M. Lupisella, NASA: 297-318.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

pecha-kucha at PLE_SOU

Folk may have missed the deadlines for submitting a paper to PLE_SOU but there is still a chance to submit a pecha-kucha (or poster demo) or just register and join in our media-cast contest. I've just uploaded a set of slides for the pecha-kucha call to slideshare (and you can take a look at my previous post on it too).
The hard work of folk like Ricardo Torres, Graham Atwell, Cristina Costa and Ilona Buchem - plus the unbridled enthusiasm of the conference participants meant that the first conference,  #PLE_BCN established a particularly high standard, for engagement, scholarly contributions and all round good fun!
So we are looking for a big dose of enthusiasm, imagination and creativity from this year's participants to match and even exceed our previous highs. The conference was also very international drawing experts from across Europe, North America and Australasia. Search YouTube with PLE_BCN to get a sense of the spirit.
So far the quality of paper proposals has been high and we are very keen to extend the community as far as possible. You can keep up to date with news and progress by following us on Twitter, and the conference promises to have a lively back channel enabling real-time interaction between attendees and those who can't make the event.
For more info on the media-cast, posters and demos you can go to the PLE_SOU website http://www.pleconf.com
You can also go along to Vimeo and join the PLE 2011 Group at Vimeo ready for the MediaCast
Come and join our vibrant community Southampton, UK July 11-13 #PLE_SOU. We are looking forward to it.
PLE_SOU conference details

Getting to grips with French/Latin - Romanes eunt domus -> Romani ite domum

Faced with translating the latin inscription on the 18th century Arc de Triomphe in Montpellier raised memories and debate on latin grammar. Along with recollections of innumerate latin masters, behaviourists who tried to modify students' behaviour by the local application of dictionary to head (with heft) we fondly recalled from Monty Python‘s Life of Brian


Lo and behold, I have just stumbled on a blog from a fellow computer scientist which cites just that scene - so thanks to @handee whose (unrelated) tweet led me there, and to  @tomcrick for citing the relevant source on his blog



[Brian is writing graffiti on the palace wall. The Centurion catches him in the act]
Centurion: What’s this, then? “Romanes eunt domus”? People called Romanes, they go, the house?
Brian: It says, “Romans go home. “
Centurion: No it doesn’t! What’s the Latin for “Roman”? Come on, come on!
Brian: Er, “Romanus”!
Centurion: Vocative plural of “Romanus” is?
Brian: Er, er, “Romani”!
Centurion: [Writes "Romani" over Brian's graffiti] “Eunt”? What is “eunt”? Conjugate the verb, “to go”!
Brian: Er, “Ire”. Er, “eo”, “is”, “it”, “imus”, “itis”, “eunt”.
Centurion: So, “eunt” is…?
Brian: Third person plural present indicative, “they go”.
Centurion: But, “Romans, go home” is an order. So you must use…?
[He twists Brian's ear]
Brian: Aaagh! The imperative!
Centurion: Which is…?
Brian: Aaaagh! Er, er, “i”!
Centurion: How many Romans?
Brian: Aaaaagh! Plural, plural, er, “ite”!
Centurion: [Writes "ite"] “Domus”? Nominative? “Go home” is motion towards, isn’t it?
Brian: Dative!
[the Centurion holds a sword to his throat]
Brian: Aaagh! Not the dative, not the dative! Er, er, accusative, “Domum”!
Centurion: But “Domus” takes the locative, which is…?
Brian: Er, “Domum”!
Centurion: [Writes "Domum"] Understand? Now, write it out a hundred times.
Brian: Yes sir. Thank you, sir. Hail Caesar, sir.
Centurion: Hail Caesar! And if it’s not done by sunrise, I’ll cut your balls off.


all of which makes my current french homework feel rather more straigthforward - now back to the todo list, and bad girl for being distracted by twitter