Remain Calm. All is Well.

Just got back from UVic where I gave a talk to a small group from the Electronic Textual Cultures Laboratory. I was going to write a longer post than this, trying to situate my talk somewhere between the binaries of Disruption-as-Solely-the-Province-of-Neo-Liberal-Discourse and the Education-is-not-broken-at-all poles the discussion seems to be falling into these days (and apologies for picking on Martin, I’m just too tired to dig out a better straw man example of the latter argument.) Because I think there is a third (and fourth and fifth and…) possibility here, that

  • there are lots of pieces of education that don’t work very well but
  • there are some pieces that do and
  • there are values and people involved with educational institutions that shouldn’t just be chucked away in the pursuit of economic efficiencies but
  • the network is indeed a disruptive force, and
  • that disruption will not simply lead to some techno-utopian ideal and
  • commercial forces will use it to continue the march of globalization towards an uninhabitable planet filled with alienated, over-medicated people unless
  • we start to change many of our relations, along many vectors, and not just rearrange deckchairs.

But that doesn’t fit well on a t-shirt. Plus even those who think it maybe sounds like a good idea in theory don’t think it’s actually possible any longer, if it ever was, so we might as well shut up and enjoy the ride while it lasts.

Anyways, I’m not going to write that post. I (hope I) WILL keep working in “education” and “learning” in ways that embody the changes I think we need to bring about, which likely mean lots of beans and rice in my future, cause its a future where we stop living on borrowed time. But I’m growing weary of trying to convince anyone else. This talk was meant to simply offer some small examples of ways we can implement technology that both harness the liberating power of the network but also make small steps towards changing how universities relate to what’s outside their walls. These changes in and of themselves are insufficient. But they start to position institutions differently, in a way I think will serve them well in the battles to come (if they happen at all; I’m not so naive to think these aren’t rearguard battles, and despite a disdain for the language of warfare, make no mistakes, there are sides to choose.)

Anyways, the slides are below and the full text of the speech of the talk is available here (sorry, no recording.)

And I can’t help leaving you with this clip from Animal House, which comes to mind every time I hear another person downplay the enormity of the challenges facing us

Presentation – Weaving Your Social Bookmarking Knowledge Network

As part of my perennial quest to foment change, I’m trying to initiate a series of grassroots “brown bag lunch online presentations” within BCcampus. We are a distributed organization of 20+ people spread across over a half-dozen locations, so building community and sharing our practices and knowledge informally can be very hard. This is one small effort on my part to improve this.

To kick it off I delivered the above presentation, on using social bookmarking to help build your knowledge network, to about a dozen of my fellow staff today. We used Elluminate to run the session, and aside from the normal hiccups with sound cards and missing mics, it seemed to run pretty well and I’m hoping was well received. The real proof will be if anyone else starts to use this technqiue to start sharing their attention and knowledge, and also whether it inspires anyone else to stand up and run a session of their own. I hope it does. I built the original presentation within our Confluence wiki (partly to walk the talk with that tool) but posted it here in a mediawiki instance in the hopes that it might be of more general interest. It’s formatted to work ok with the Greasemonkey Mediaiwiki Presentation script as well. – SWL

Walking the Web 2.0 Talk…and you can help

Next week I am back in Atlanta to give a talk on “Web 2.0” to the educational technology working group of the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB).

At this point in the game, giving a talk on “Web 2.0” is pretty daunting, not because the topic is that difficult but because it’s been done so well so many times before that the challenge is how to keep it fresh and interesting.

I thought about this for a while and came up with the above approach. First off, rather than try to speak of “Web 2.0” in the abstract, I decided (inspired by Cogdog’s recent examples) to tell a story, in this case my own story of the various points where I came to accept that something new IS going on with Web 2.0. Like many, my tendency was to try and understand the present and the future in terms of the past. While at times this can serve you well, it also results in a tendency to underestimate the magnitude of true discontinuities. And it seems to me that anyone still needing a “what is Web 2.0” talk is likely suffering from this phenomenon, underestimating the disruption these innovations are already affecting.

The other approach I thought I’d try is to do the presentation as a page in mediawiki and then use the mediawiki presentation script during the presentation. (As an aside, I modified the script to work a little better, if you care you can install it from this page.) The idea, obviously, being to

  1. use Web 2.0 tools to talk about Web 2.0
  2. turn the presentation into a demonstration of some Web 2.0 phenomenom (write once/read anywhere; participatory web, etc)

That’s where you come in. I am about to send this page off to the organizers so that they can circulate it to the attendees with the request that they add to it, but I’m also looking for feedback and additions for you.

Each section has two links to areas I’m hoping people will add to. Each section heading has a link where I have added some additional notes, links and an invitation to steer the talk on that particular topic. And at the bottom of each section, there is a link for people to add their own stories of how they came to stop doubting and embrace the change being heralded in by Web 2.0. It’s there that I especially hope you will consider adding links back to your own blogs, your own personal stories of how you came to understand these various aspects of Web 2.0

If you decide to, you can edit the wiki using a generic account I’ve set up (username:wiki, password:wikiwiki). I’m hoping for at least a couple of outside contributions in an effort to demonstrate to decision makers from 16 southern states the power of the network. So please, consider adding a link or note on one of the sub-pages, and I will try to then work it into the larger presentation. – SWL