Archive for June, 2008


Wrapping up some ecology concepts

June 18, 2008

Recently there are quite many biological theories that are used to explain the web 2.0 phenomena.

I have been fascinated in elaborating the niche ideas and these other biological ideas seem to be moving into their places in this ecological learning theory i have in mind.

About a year ago i was reading about hive mind idea for explaining collective intelligence and global mind.

..we see sophisticated, elegant, convenient communications software arise “from nowhere,” made of thousands and thousands of carefully ordered code

The major components of a Hive Mind are:

* Communication
* Visibility
* SharedAwarenessSystem
* Commitment

Just recently Petri Kola explained at seminar the concept of swarms as a very useful one to explain behaviour in microblogging sites.

At summerschool I was talking with Tobias about foraging behaviours that seemed quite promising and fitting into the ecology framework of learning in web 2.0.

Wikipedia says that:
Foraging theory predicts that the foraging options that deliver the highest payoff, should be favored by foraging animals because it will have the highest fitness payoff.
There are many versions of optimal foraging theory that are relevant to different foraging situation. These include:
* The optimal diet model, which describes the behavior of a forager that encounters different types of prey and must choose which to attack
* Patch selection theory, which describes the behavior of a forager whose prey is concentrated in small areas with a significant travel time between them
* Central place foraging theory, which describes the behavior of a forager that must return to a particular place in order to consume its food, or perhaps to hoard it or feed it to a mate or offspring.

The patch selection theory seems to be connected with ‘leaving traces’ ideas from the swarm behaviour. The ‘central place foraging’ idea has a connection with niche formation through fitness landscapes.

There is a paper in press:
Chaos, Solitons & Fractals
Volume 38, Issue 1, October 2008, Pages 277-292
Collective motion of a class of social foraging swarms
Bo Liu, Tianguang Chua, Long Wanga and Zhanfeng Wanga

The general understanding in biology is that the swarming behavior is a result of an interplay between a long-range attraction and a short-range repulsion between the individuals.
In the course of foraging the swarm individuals may also be affected by a nutrient profile (or an attractant/repellent), i.e. attraction to the more favorable areas or repulsion from the unfavorable areas of the attractant/repellent profile.

The results show that the members of a quasi-reciprocal swarm will aggregate and eventually form a cohesive cluster of finite size for different profiles.
All the swarm individuals can converge to more favorable areas of the profile and diverge from unfavorable areas under certain conditions.
More complex self-organized oscillations may occur in the systems.

Graham was mentioning also the rhizomic networks idea i have liked before, that might fit into the scheme.


Graham Attwell’s talk of PLEs at summerschool

June 18, 2008

The workshop was a discussion with students and Graham, it was a bit disappointing… I think mostly very general things were brought up by students and Graham’s answers were same general. Anyway, nice experience of how to spend 1,5 hour of making bubbles with some pearls among. Graham’s point of course was that he is not presenting anything but he is here to start the conversation, in the end he said that for those who feel disappointed, there is the slidecast of 20 min is in slideshare and lots of info is under PLE tag in his blog.

Graham: What is a learning environment?

Stein: Learning environment is all my distributed tools
Lauri: it annoys me that the learning environment is considered technology, there is a glass wall between this and more natural learning environment outdoors.

GrahaM: How much our identity, when we are in the computer environment, differs from our identity in real world?
I want my personal learning environment to represent my knowledge – i think most relevant is Matrix film representation of knowledge.

dougsymington:@cristinacost how do learners acquire a “public voice” in online environments? Obvious differences depending on age. Other issues? #scohrid

Graham: What you do and who you share in learning environments gives the public voice.
Does public voice depend on your learning in networked systems – its an interesting question.

Lilian: Personal learning environments – i have three questions, what is personal, what is learning, what is environment. I think education is manipulation, the idea of personal is MINE, how can i disconnect from it time to time? Does environment needs to be integrated, does someone need to help me to manipulate my environment.

Graham: I call it personal LEARNING environment. Lots of our learning is incidental.
We must often log in to institutional systems and adopt, why not can we come with our own learning environments. Learning environment is not a program or site in internet – its a series of tools which individual learners use across multiple devices which are used in different ways and different contexts.
Learning is not how people use technology, we use different things in different context.

xxx: Most students are too lazy to use PLEs, we must force students to use them.

Martin:You also have to control them, without control they don’t do anything.

Linda: i disagree i think it is only easier for us as teachers to control them. With PLE development the teacher must work hard, students become lazy and lost, but you must do this road with them and also do this road as a teacher. For me is difficult to leave the control to the hands of students.

Alev: if you try to change it, students don’t like it.

Lilian: in French business school young students say we know what is learning, we don’t want to change it.

Graham: Do we teach students to be lazy, sit there and let them to be taught? We come here to learn, not to teach ourselves!
I think when we invent new technology we invent it in the previous society paradigms. Our school system comes from factory system – teacher as factory overseer, when we take computer and build virtual classrooms, we take the same paradigm. Of course it does not work.

Ralf: the educational system is getting even stronger, since kindergarten we try to prepare them for labour market.

Graham: I certainly agree that in periods of paradigm shift the contradictions will get stronger in the society.

Lauri: teachers’ experience comes from history, teachers are always old-fashioned for the students. I think future is so unpredictable, we need a new way to teach providing ability to invent.

Linda: We are people from 20th century teaching people of the future.

Graham: Is important that teachers were less trying to teach technology but also use it by themselves.

Graham: Is very interesting that you drag the conversation back to schools, but i think of learning outside the school, facilitation and encouraging learning outside the school, embedding learning in wider hearts of the society than school, it may actually start addressing the problems where real learning takes place.

Google was being widely used for learning – if you want to learn something you google, you dont go to your research environments that look horrible.
Why if you are using google you expect students will do something different?

Graham: Reclaim lurking!
Paper: Searching, lurking in the zone of proximal development.

All communities are interconnected by notes, nodal learning. Are you just accessing information or are you learning? People do contextually purposeful activities, they are sequenced in the terms of their own learning not by curriculum, they are social. A lot of learning is driven through personal interest that people do by themselves. In educational technology we keep sucked back to e-learning classes.

Start help people to manage their personal learning environments for informal learning.

Ralf: life long learning as a punishment never stops.

xxx: Are we replicating in virtual learning environments the ‘prison’?

Graham: no instead we use the term ‘walled garden’ 🙂

Lilian: what do you think of the tyranny of connection?
Linda: the same tyranny is the books


Summer school activity in Ohrid

June 13, 2008

Here are some resources for ProLearn summer school workshop.

Some files can be accessed from here.


Here are the results of our workshop:

Planning doctoral landscape and activity pattern

Doctoral students’ activity niche

Doctoral students’ activity ontospace plotted on tool landscape


Multi perspective view to affordances of tools

June 5, 2008

Today at master defences commission i played a bit with my data collected from students’ course.
Here is the demo tool to play with your dataset:

The formation of learning spaces happens through the social definition of several learning and teaching related environmental gradients that define the niche as the multidimensional space. In general, any gradient is a peak of the fitness landscape of one environmental characteristic, which can be visualized in two-dimensional space as a graph with certain skewness and width, determining the ecological amplitude. The shape of the fitness graph for certain characteristic can be plotted through the abundance of certain specimen benefitting of this characteristic. Each niche gradient defines one dimension of the space. Any learning and teaching gradient is determined as a characteristic that learners and teachers as creative knowledge constructing organisms perceive and actualize as useful for their activities and wellbeing individually or in groups. These niches gradients that make up learning and teaching spaces may be ecologically named learning affordances of the space – they are defined mutually in interaction both by the learner and the surrounding system.

Niche gradients emerge in the course of the embodied simulation processes of several individuals. Both the environmental cues and activity traces from surrounding environment, as well as, learner’s embodied knowledge involving the use of this environment in action, would trigger the actualization of certain learning affordances.

The activity system model provides a meaningful framework for describing the components of the surrounding environment where the learners and teachers are embodied during their activities. These involve individuals with certain objectives aiming to work together and defining certain rules and roles within their community when using tools and artifacts as mediators of their actions. Hence, the learning affordance descriptions involve the learning action verbs, people who are involved in action, and mediators of actions (various tools, services and artifacts). Any individual conceptualizes learning affordances personally, but the range of similar learning affordance conceptualizations may be clustered into more general affordance groups eg. pulling social awareness information or searching artifacts by social filtering etc.

Since in the learning design models the choice of the software tools plays an important role, niches may be defined by the frequency each learning affordance is perceived useful when making use of the certain tool.

The most useful affordances of each tool are demonstrated at upper right corner.

Here are the affordances of blog and wiki.

Affordances of social bookmarks and google search engine

Affordances of chat and aggregator