Posts Categorized: Technology

Laptop Furor

The Premier of New Brunswick is trying to get a pilot laptop project going for Grade 7 students in one of our schools, but there has been much vocal resistance. His interest in the subject was sparked during a visit to Maine, where laptops were recently introduced into the school system. The initiative appears to be a success in Maine. I’ve already commented that I used to be against the idea of technology for technology’s sake, but laptops give students a wide range of opportunities that they wouldn’t otherwise have. These include access to courses online, connections with other schools in other countries, use of blogs and wikis for knowledge creation, and others.

Now there is non-profit organisation in Britain lobbying for laptops in all schools. The author of the Digital Equality report from Citizens Online stated, "The very process of education is dependent on technology and not having equal access to laptops is like some pupils using pen and paper while others use slate and chalk."

Human nature is funny. If you say you can’t have something, then everyone wants it. If you have something to give away, then no one wants it.

RAND Report – The 21st Century at Work

A recent report by the Rand Corporation The 21st Century at Work: Forces Shaping the Future Workforce and Workplace in the United States is available for +300 PDF pages of reading pleasure. In the report, three factors affecting work are discussed ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú demographic trends, technological advances and globalisation. The US workforce [read Canadian too] will not grow as quickly as it has in the past. Technology will continue to reshape production, jobs and organisations. There is a worldwide marketplace for goods, services and labour.

This is a comprehensive look at forces affecting labour, organisations, the nature of work and technology. This report combines what a lot of other reports have already mentioned and should be a good reference for the next year or two.

Some interesting extracts:

?¢‚Ǩ?ìJust as individualized medicine is envisioned as an outgrowth of biotechnology, individualized learning programs that are optimized for a given person?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s knowledge base and learning style are expected for the future. Such learning programs will become increasingly sophisticated over time with advances in hardware and software, including artificial intelligence, voice recognition and natural language comprehension.?¢‚Ǩ¬ù

?¢‚Ǩ?ìThese workers and others who increasingly interact in a global marketplace and participate in global work teams will also require the skills needed to collaborate and interact in diverse cultural and linguistic settings (Marquardt and Horvath, 2001). Individuals who can exploit diversity to generate new knowledge about customers, suppliers, products, and services will be more likely to succeed in a competitive global environment.?¢‚Ǩ¬ù

The Internet and Real-Time Evaluation

Liz Lawley in Many2Many discusses the merits of blogging conference presentations, and describes the different types of presentations, from good speakers & good content to the reverse. The privacy of IRC or other media encourages criticism, and some critical thinking, as well as plain old heckling. I see this as a pretty good method to evaluate conference presenters, either as formative evaluation for improvement or summative evaluation, to ensure that they don’t get invited back if they can’t cut it. Blogging and chat seem to be better evaluation tools than "smiley" sheets that few attendees complete …

This reminds me of Conor Vibert’s competitive intelligence class at Acadia University, where he has students giving presentations on a business, while others are going online to question their claims, and other students are using chat to discuss the points without interrupting the speakers. It’s exciting to watch Conor’s classes in action at the Acadia Real Time Case Competition.

More on Conversations

My previous blog on Blogs, Markets & Conversations, is nothing new. A detailed discussion from 1997 is provided by Juanita Brown, which was pointed out by Martin Dugage, who also hopes to see the end of corporate jargon as a feeble attempt at conversation with markets.

Blogs, Markets & Conversations

According to Lilia, in Mathemagenic, blogging is about conversations, and "Conversations are different from publishing, they require listening to others, require investment of attention and energy". This is also the central premise of the Cluetrain Manifesto, in that "Markets are conversations".

In order to have a lasting relationship between producers of goods and services and their markets, conversations are essential. This means listening, not just sending out marketing hype. There is a simple way to determine your markets. They are where you have the best conversations. Now figure out a business model around these conversations. Blogging can help you open these conversations.

Currently, my blog is mostly publishing, not conversations. Some of my previous blogs have produced some good conversations, and my aim is once again to publish enough blogs, so that I can get the conversations going. I participate in other blogs, where I am part of larger conversations about those things that interest me – learning, work systems, technology, sustainable development …

Laptop Schools

I have generally been against the use of technology for technology’s sake, and this includes laptops in schools. An article in Syllabus has raised a good point to make me question my anti-laptop stance. According to the author, having laptops available to all students provides more opportunities for advanced students. "As the schools embrace full access to online resources, they are importing services and resources. They are also giving kids access to online Advance Placement (AP) courses that are produced and distributed by colleges and corporations. These school districts could never afford to support as many AP students as is possible electronically." Perhaps I’ve been wrong.

Open Content

Thanks to Stephen Downes’ OLDaily for pointing this out. The PEW Research Centre states that 44% of American Internet users put content online for free. I think that there are a couple of inferences that one can make. First, that it is possible to have content online without paying someone. Second, that if you are going to launch a business that offers content for sale, then it has to be better in some way than all of the free content out there. As I’ve said before, just putting content online is not a viable business model.

RSS & Aggregators

RSS (really simple syndication) is a means of keeping track of the web logs that you read. It’s a push technology so you don’t have to keep checking for news, it comes to you. I use bloglines, a web-based aggregator, and my blog subscription is publicly accessible. There are many other services available, free and for a fee, some which use client software on your computer.

If you’re interested in the use and future of RSS, go to Stephen Downes’ discussion: "So, RSS could succeed. It will probably succeed. But it is important to keep our focus on what it does well: it allows an individual to scan, filter, and pass forward. That’s all it ever has to do. The network will do the rest."

Social Networks & Corporate Learning

Jay Cross of the newly renamed Emergent Learning Forum, discusses social networks and their value for corporate learning. This is the frontier of the Internet, building on the writings of Malcolm Gladwell (author of The Tipping Point)and others, on how loose social ties are more important than strong ones for learning, as they introduce ideas and people outside of our usual social circle. Social networks, communities of practice, expertise locators, etc. have more potential and utility in this medium than centralized systems such as LCMS. If you have an interest in this field, then join the Forum, it’s free.