Kinective learning

January 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

Microsoft is currently exploring ways of using its Kinect system, whereby the body movement of the user in front of a Microsoft XBox can control a wide variety of activities, both for fun and learning.The company is investing in the educational potential of this device – which can also be used directly with a PC – and I really think these efforts are worth taking seriously, even at this relatively early stage. There’s a lot to discover about what has already been achieved with this system, but as a taster I recommend watching this YouTube clip from Lagoa Secondary School in the Azores, where they have been experimenting with the Kinect with special needs learners. I heard the Principal of the school talk about it at a conference yesterday, and I am pretty convinced. I’ll post further examples about some of the work Microsoft is sponsoring around this over the coming months.

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Becoming a Learning Citizen

January 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

Becoming A Learning Citizen

Learning is about creating space for change and transformation. Given the complexity of today’s world, we all need to practice the art of enhancing our capacities in the light of this complexity. As learning citizens, each of us shall strive to bring new ways of thinking, being and doing to social challenges in the world. Being a learning citizen requires us to master some kind of digital artistry thanks to the plethora of Web 2.0nproviding new learning opportunities.  Learning citizenship is in fact about practicing some kind of social artistry that Wenger mentions in his article and that has the following underlying characteristics:

  • Social artists network because there is something they care about, some new learning they want to enable.
  • Social artists have a genuine intention to create a collective learning process.
  • Social artists care that people feel ownership of their learning spaces.
  • Social artists are patient with social processes, they do not seek control.
  • Social artists can tolerate chaos, dissension and negotiation.
  • Social artists inspire people to do things these people never thought they would do and end up feeling good about it.
  • Social artists are pragmatic …. Social artists have visions and aspirations even when they are quiet about them… They are able to navigate the complex politics of communities and organizations to promote and protect the learning spaces they care about.
  • Social artists live what they seek to bring about….They use their own experience and  identity, as a source of inspiration.
  • The work of social artists has to do with the heart as well as the mind, with passion and commitment…. And it is hard work.

Etienne Wenger in his comment referenced above talks about the need for us to become “learning citizens” and to consider how we can act as learning citizens in this world. Social artistry asks all of us to consider how we create and support learning in our lives. Based on this definition, I have been thinking of 3 kinds of learning necessary for becoming a  learning citizen here:

(1) learning as revealed by the blogger, as a critical and reflective learner, in form of “personal knowledge” as “integrated and curated” from his/her blog post and other posts/artifacts, as a broadcast/reflection/stimulus to conversation,

(2) learning as the conversation (of the concepts behind, in critical thinking & analysis), and as distributed knowledge, or online conversation, and

(3) the emergent learning, as a set of connections between nodes (revealing a pattern that consists of crystallization of thoughts and perceptions out of the minds, conversation of different nodes), and in these connections that knowledge could reside.

I would also add that this would become a valuable learning artifact for the digital artist, in further knowledge exploration and building in networks.

Relating to the proposition whether the learning citizen should be active, engaged, embodied, and if these were a product of engagement, the response would be a yes. If we were to conceive knowledge as conversation, & that a set of connections (the engagement), I could also interpret this as a development like the fractals, where such fractal would repeat itself but its shape would be based on initial conditions of agents, with “spirals” & re-birth or re-configuration of different fractals (patterns) emerging in different forms.  Such fractal formation would be dependent on feedback and looping back into other posts, via the linkage, and thus could be amplified or dampened as the pattern developed.

Jean Houston has more on what she sees as the necessary skills and capacities of social artists, including the skills to:

  • Work with diverse cultures and contexts.
  • Preserve existing culture, while helping a culture’s members move to new stories and ways of seeing the world.
  • See new trends and patterns in apparent chaos.
  • Help people work in collaborative networks and circles of connection, and move away from hierarchies and power structures.
  • Present a model for a constantly learning society and new frameworks for learning.
  • Use story, art and metaphor to draw out individual potential.
  • Be a fool, a humorist or a comedian when laughter is required.
  • Be a healer, recognizing that transformation is in some ways a process of creation and evolution that moves us to a higher order–to our best possible self.
  • Respect the individuality and unique qualities of each person he/she works with, helping people grow into their own possibilities, rather than teaching them how to conform.
  • Reflect on experience and embrace the role of the inner journey in creating outer change.

I think that these skills are equally valid for becoming a learning citizen. To this list, I would add the following skills in:

  • Inviting new ways of seeing and solving problems by asking good questions.
  • Creating a safe learning space for others based on trust
  • Facilitating the recognition of reality to create the necessary tension for change.
  • Listening for what is being said beneath the words and seeing what is apparent, beneath surface appearances

So, what is your way of practicing learning citizenship?

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