Ripples

I remember seeing this tool a few months back, but at the time, it never dawned upon me to take notice of it. I didn’t understand the significance because I did not yet fully understand Connectivism (Cormier, 2005), Serendipity (Ito, 2012), and “complex AI Algorithms” (Koller, 2013). Today, it finally dawned upon me, and so I took the trouble to check out the “Ripples” of two G+ posts that I had analyzed in a previous blog.

The diagrammatic Ripples depictions in G+ are quite interesting (note: click on the individual graphs below to access the respective interactive Venn Diagrams)

I find this interesting because the Ripples diagram for Michael’s post is much more complex than Ripples diagram for Demian’s post, even though Demian’s post has (at the time of this blog) 226 comments, and Michael’s only has 138 comments.

This shows that the Ripples tool is ineffective in depicting actual human interaction. Google admits this, by having a disclaimer in red text on their About Google+ Ripples webpage:

While Ripples displays a lot of cool information, you’re not actually seeing all the action that’s taken place.

Around the same time as the two referred posts, Demian started another G+ post which discussed the phenomena of massive posts and the significance of such discussions. Many other discussions ensued in G+ surrounding this topic, so much so that it prompted me to write a blog on Rhizomatic Learning. Subsequently, I continued to research, explore, and snoop around a bit in a variety of websites, and discovered that, at the current time, there really is no tool that can effectively quantify actual human interactions in any online open discussion threadswell, at least, none that are accessible to the public. This triggered me to think about a few current issues:

The cMOOC debates – Academics, administrators, and platform providers are currently in heated debate about the issue of MOOC assessments, quality of learning, lack of human interaction, and validity of platform tracking. The fact that Connectivist MOOCs rely on discussions inside and outside of MOOC platforms (for example in G+), reinforces this debate. IMHO, the limitations of this G+ Ripples tool, and the lack of other public accessible tools, simply adds more fuel to this debate.

The LMS handicap – Education institutions utilize both proprietary and open source Learning Management Systems (LMS) to deliver instruction. One of the more common popular tools in any LMS is the capacity to host discussions online, through Discussion Boards (DB’s), Wikis, Journals, and Blogs. My institution uses Blackboard (BB). Despite the latest updates and improvements, I still find the available analytics tools in BB quite primitive, as BB only provides word counts for main posts, but not for comment boxes -ie. exactly the same limitation as what G+ Ripples has!

The NSA controversy – In contrast to the demand for tracking in education for the purposes of assessing learning, it seems that we humans actually do not like being tracked. The current controversy is a hot topic in the media, where personal privacy is confirmed to be a thing of the past. Big bro is watching, and so are social networking sites such as G+ and FB.

However, now that we know G+’s Ripples does NOT actually measure “real” interaction, my question would be – is that a good thing? or a bad thing??

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Rhizomatic Learning

When David Cormier first published Rhizomatic education: Community as curriculum“, in Innovate (2008), in which he used the Rhizome as an analogy to describe Connectivist culture (Siemens and Downes, 2008), not many academics paid attention. It was only after Sebastian Thrun’s legendary Introduction to Artificial Intelligence which spawned over 160,000 online learners, and after the NY Times labeled 2012 as The Year of the MOOC , when the humble root analogy truly came into vogue. I have a personal interest in this Rhizome analogy, as I had myself adopted parallelisms from the plant world / natural sciences field into my own past research:

Osmosis– “When immersed in a saturated context, absorption naturally occurs”. (Detrochet, 1847)

“Osmosis Learning”“When immersed in a context which is saturated with learning opportunities, learners instinctively ‘absorb’ to equalize their level of ‘lacking knowledge’ to that of a ‘higher knowledge’.” (Hussin, 2004).

Fast forward to present day (2013) , in one of the (many) G+ discussions that I rhizomatically engage in on a daily basis, the topic of Rhizomes, Rhizomatic Learning, and the analogy of Rhizomes spontaneously cropped up a few days ago, and started to develop in multiple directions (hence, living up to the concept in itself). I find this epitomization quite fascinating. And since I am a Visual Learner (in addition to being a Rhizomatic Learner), I thought I would post a pictorial blog on this topic:

Simple diagram of the most commonly known Rhizome – the ubiquitous plant called “grass” – showing the omnidirectional and “node” nature of growth:

Amazing series of computer generated images depicting the growth of Rhizomes:





Link to original source of the above – Rhizome: a clonal growth simulator (September 05, 2006)

Link to my earlier blog on the same topic – Rhizomatic Learning (March 31, 2013)

Link to my original blog that spawned this blog – HIP HeLPers REALLy CONNECT (June 30, 2013) – and to my earlier G+ post that triggered the discussion beforehand

Links to a few other G+ discussions and blog posts that are relevant to this topic:

HIP HeLPers REALLy CONNECT

I read an interesting observation made by +Michael Bennett in his massive G+ post this morning… “little niche community we seem to be building here one post at a time”. (NOTE: Michael’s post at the current time has 342 plusses+, 132 reshares, 129 comments, and is still going strong)

Two days earlier, +Richard Green made a similar comment “This one post and its comments are more interesting than most whole Communities”  in +Demian Farnworth‘s G+ post  which is similarly massive (NOTE-1: Demian’s post at the current time has 52 plusses+, 6 reshares, and a whopping 226 comments, all on-topic and still going strong; NOTE-2: Demian also started another G+ post which discusses the phenomena of massive posts):

It never occurred to me, until I read both Michael and Richard’s comments together, that:

the building of communities could occur sequentially within one post, 

the communities that arise from such phenomena could be even more engaged in discussions, and more “connected” in the “open” G+ “learning environment” , than “traditionally” defined communities .

This made me Analyze the Architecture of this type of serendipitous and spontaneouscommunity building”… The following is the breakdown of the Building Blocks and Construction methods (the ABC‘s ):

(1) both discussions are Hyperactive and Informative Posts @ HIP
(2) the contributors are all Heutagogical Leading Persons @ HeLPers
(3) the scope discussed is Rhizomatic, Extensive, Amorphous, and Literally Literary @ REALLy
(4) dialog references are Creative, Open, Novel / New, Educational, Connectivist and Technological @ CONNECT

In summary, HIP HeLPers REALLy CONNECT!!!

My brain just loves acronymology! (NOTE: Reference back to a former G+ post)

NOTE: This blog was shared in G+ on June 30, 2013, and a lively discussion entailed… https://plus.google.com/u/0/117219403239374562288/posts/6r9av4rbXHb

The “Magic” of Connectivism

I received an unexpected warm surprise this morning — an email congratulating me that this blog – i12LOL! – made it to the “99 Best Resources on Open Courseware and MOOCs“. I never dreamed this could happen, especially since I still consider myself to be a “baby” in this online world.

I never blogged before this. I only started 4 months ago. In fact, I had I stayed off the grid and been in “hiding” for 6 years (except for work-related emails). I had always been fearful of new technologies (despite pretending to know what I do in my job), and I used to abhor anything that was labeled “social network”. In general, I never saw myself as a “resource” for online learners.

But I am deeply affected by this new discovery. To whoever nominated this blog — THANK YOU! … I will endeavor to persist, and now, I have a BIG reason to keep posting blogs!

To start, I’d like to share an incredible phenomena that is (still) going on in G+ (right now). A week ago, Demian Farnworth started a post in G+. Within days, it exploded into a MASSIVE dialog, involving hundreds of people, spanning endless pages of high-quality input. As of this moment, the post now has 213 comments, is STILL going strong, AND is STILL ON TOPIC.

The discussion revolves around Connectivist Culture (Siemens, 2008), the impetus for dialog in online social platforms, and the impact this phenomena has. I strongly suggest visiting this discussion thread and spending time reading through. WARNING: It will take awhile to swim through, as many of the comments have embedded links, which will carry you to a plethora of parallel resources, laden with juicy mind-boggling intellectual content. Reading this discussion thread is a Rhizomatic Learning (Cormier, 2008) experience in itself.

Link to legendary discussion thread https://plus.google.com/u/0/115630079405940076652/posts/KsdmNNeDUWN

Link to analysis of the referred thread https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?shva=1#inbox/13f813cc5980e885

Mobile Learning – Pilot Post

NOTE: This is a follow up from the initial “Mobile Learning” blog post. The objective of this “Mobile Learning” blog series is to identify, explore, and experience “Mobile Learning” through experimental hands-on immersion, and to refute the statements:

“Mobile Learning… never alive to begin with.”

“Mobile Learning… definitely a misnomer!”

Cars whizzed by.

The drivers hardly noticed the short figure jogging down the bicycle trail next to the parkway, as they whizzed by, heading home at the end of the day. If they had taken heed, they would have seen that the jogger was not jogging, but walking… and… swinging her arms up over her head, and down again in a big circular swoop, over, and over again. She was trying out an experiment – how to exercise her arms while jogging, and not just her legs. Her steps and arm swinging motion were continuous, not too slow, not too fast, and quite regularly paced… almost rhythmic. The drivers didn’t care. They just whizzed by.

But the jogger noticed the drivers.

The first driver that drove past was a woman. She had one arm on the wheel. The other arm was wedged on her window sill, holding her cell to her ear. Her lips were animated. it looked like a loud discussion. The jogger could not hear anything, of course. Not just because the car was whizzing by at 45 mph, but because she had ear plugs blasting 1980’s music in her ears.

The second driver who whizzed by was a man. He was not talking on his cell. Instead, he was texting. Tsk! Tsk! Wasn’t that dangerous? But wait. It was a police car. Oh well! Perhaps that is OK then?

The third car was a family-filled minivan. Dad was driving. He was talking on his cell. Mom sat in the passenger seat. She too was on her cell, obviously talking to someone else, not her husband. Two kids and a dog in the back seat. All three watching some type of cartoon on the built-in DVD screen.

The jogger kept noticing each and every vehicle that whizzed by.

The jogger was me.

I kept track – counting the number of vehicles and which ones had occupants using mobile devices – all the way till the bicycle path veered away from the parkway, and down under the bridge. 13 vehicles in total. Of that number, only 2 were “free” from mobile devices. A quick stop. Pulled out my iPhone. Typed the numbers. The calculator app then spit out the stats… 85%…

85% of the vehicles had either the driver, the passenger(s), both, or all occupants, utilizing some form of mobile device.

I found the statistics rather revealing.

Granted, the sample size was only 13. Not much to say about that. I was, after all, in Lincoln, Nebraska, which has a grand total population of only 200K. Plus, the stretch of road where the bicycle trail ran parallel to the parkway, from the spot I started jogging, to the point where the trail diverged, was only about 200 yards.

Still, such a staggering figure… 85%.

But how does this have anything to do with “Mobile Learning”? Just because someone has a cell phone stuck to their ear, does not mean that they are experiencing “Mobile Learning”. But wait. I was jogging. I was mobile. And I learned that 85% of drivers in Lincoln, Nebraska, drive while using a mobile device. Although my statistical data might be skewed and not accurately reflective of the actual population, nevertheless, I learned something new that day. And I was “mobile” at the time of “learning”. So, perhaps I was the one experiencing “Mobile Learning”? Yes, perhaps this counts, I thought to myself.

I kept jogging.

As I looked closely at the bridge underpass, I saw a familiar formula. It was neatly written in white chalk across the grey naked concrete underpass wall. My mind scrambled to search my long term memory, looking for the appropriate schema. Oh yes! I suddenly remembered. Algebra? Pre-calculus? Quadratic equations? Some teenager had obviously been reviewing his/her math formulas at that spot recently. My own son, a junior in high school, had just had his math final exam a day earlier. I tried to imagine what the high school kid who wrote the formula might have been like. He/she was definitely “learning”. Plus, considering the venue – the bicycle trail underpass – he/she was definitely “mobile”. Good for him/her! He/she is definitely a “Mobile Learner”!

I noticed at least 2-3 dozen more (small but interesting) revealing observations throughout my jog. If each observation were counted as a “learning” experience, then, I definitely experienced a lot of “Mobile Learning” that day.

I felt good.

“Mobile Learning… IS alive.”

“Mobile Learning… exists!”

Tune in for more “Mobile Learning” blog posts next week.

Mobile Learning

“Mobile Learning is dead… or maybe, it was never truly alive to begin with.”

The comment came from one of the speakers on the panel discussion. I was one of six panelists invited to speak on a Google Hangout public broadcast. It was interesting to see the comment pop up on the private chat box, which only  panelists and moderators could see on the back-of-house “broadcast” screen. The public chat box, or better known as “comments thread”, was on a separate screen. Being a veteran Adobe Connect user, and (at that time) a novice Google Hangout user, I found the dual chat box format rather clever, but initially confusing. Adobe Connect utilizes a stacked tab-system to separate private chats from the public ones. Much more intuitive, I thought.

“Very true… mobile learning is definitely a misnomer!”

Someone else on the panel had responded. I scrambled to check names. Who had said what? It was tough keeping abreast with the live broadcast discussion, and the behind-the-scenes banter. I eventually ignored the private chatter and focused on being an attentive participatory panelist.

But those comments haunted me after the broadcast was over, and continued to gnaw at my subconscious days after.

“Mobile Learning… never alive to begin with.”

“Mobile Learning… definitely a misnomer!”

Why did Mobile Learning never kick off? What is the definition of Mobile learning anyway? How does one actually engage in Mobile Learning?

The term “Mobile Learning” is such a cliche. “Learning” we all know. It could involve any of the three domains (Blooms, 1956) – Cognitive, Affective, Psychomotor. “Mobile” became a buzz word in the 1990’s with the advent of mobile phones @ cell phones. But the combination of the two words only recently made its big debut in the academic world, when Apple first launched the iPad in 2010. Overnight, everyone who was an anyone was talking about how “Mobile Learning” would revolutionize the world.

It’s been three years since iPad 1.0 first hit the market. Countless tablet PC’s, Android mobile phones, and not to mention multiple versions of iPhones and iPads later, sadly, we still do not see a world revolutionized by “Mobile Learning”.

“There is definitely a lot of learning content available through mobile devices nowadays, but do people actually learn when they are mobile-on-the-go? I think not,” I recall one of the panelists commenting.

I fully agree.

I don’t see too many people engaging in cognitive, affective, or psychomotor online activities on-the-go. Sure, there are a sprinkling of people whom I know who listen to audio-books, a couple of techno-savvy botany students whom I know use their iPhones to look up on Wikipedia whenever they happen to see a plant they don’t recognize, and I only know one person who listens to DIY exercise audio recordings. But overall? Who is truly mobile and learning?

The thought kept haunting me…

One fine night about two weeks after the panel discussion, I suddenly woke up at 3am. The haunting words had gotten the better of me. I woke up and could not go back to bed. It was then I decided… I would embark on an experiment!

As mentioned in an earlier blog, I have always been a proponent for Action Research, and especially partial to the Ethnographic Participant Immersion Methodology (Wolcott, 1973/2002). What better way to learn about “Mobile Learning” than to explore, indulge, and immerse myself in it? In addition, I am a true believer of Discovery “Binge” Learning, so, half-cooked efforts would not suffice in my books. Thus, I decided that I would aim to (eventually) build my stamina to go fully 100% mobile, in all three domains –  cognitive, affective, and psychomotor – but in order to do so, I would need to prime myself first.

My personal natural dominant learning domain is my Affective Domain, with my Cognitive Domain coming in a close second. I always perceive holistically first, before allowing my thinking cap to kick in. Sadly though, having grown up as an asthmatic kid, my Psychomotor Domain has always been lagging far behind. Luckily, being an incorrigible type-A personality, I learned (through the years) numerous coping mechanisms to overcome my physical deficiencies, including developing a spicy hot personality to counter my pint size height and indulging in low impact x-sports such as scuba diving to achieve mind-over-body control.

So, this new goal I gave to myself – “True Mobile Learning” – would need careful pre-planning and pre-training.

To be truly “mobile” I would need to be fit. Why not? I’m not getting any younger, and what better excuse to force myself to pick up jogging. I imagined being asked, “Why are you jogging?”, and my answer would be, “It’s all in the name of Action Research.”

Yes. Sounds good. I liked that.

And that… was how it all began. A haunting thought, eves-dropped from a private chat box during an online broadcast, festered in my subconscious for weeks, and surfaced spontaneously at 3am, on a totally random unimportant day.

I have since then started jogging daily. Each time, I bring my iPhone with me – ear plugs, Pandora, 3G data plan and all. So far, it has been quite enlightening. I have noticed that “learning” does occur, and I am excited to share what I have learned so far. However, I decided to wait till I had jogged more than 10 times before I started blogging about it (to ensure that this was not just a passing fad). In any case, my efforts reached day-10 yesterday. So, from today onwards, I will chart my “Mobile Learning” escapades in this blog.

cropped-i12lolavatar3.jpg I want to Learn On Line… while MOBILE!!!

Link to pilot post in this series.