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New Tools for Personal Learning


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In this presentation I describe how new technologies are being designed in order to adapt to a rapidly changing and complex world. In this picture, learning is not a matter of knowledge acquisition and memorization, but rather, personal development in such a way that we become able to navigate and work with this knowledge and content in the same manner, with the same capacities, as the expert. This is a type of learning that is based on the creation of tools that support a mesh network; this network, in turn, supports the conversation and interactions that foster the development of an expert character. Audio and more at

Published in: Education, Technology
  • What are you people talking about? This are crap! This presentation is EXACTLY what most of us in training and development decry...putting a ppt online and calling it learning...How about some explanation of this stuff?
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  • Very useful tools. Bookmarked.

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  • Stephen's clear thinking takes my breath away.
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  • The more you get to teach what you're discovering, Stephen, the clearer and clearer your theory becomes. This piece is SOOOOO helpful. I'm really glad you were invited to the Czech Republic to speak this aloud...and that it's so easy for you now to post your thoughts for all of us who weren't there to benefit from. Everyday I stand a little taller and my step gets a little springier as I trek along behind you. I'm so glad you've taken up this discovery of Connectivism. Your learning and the language and graphics you put together helps me make sense of my everyday experience ... and I'm so grateful. Without you, I would just feel lost in space...
    Hearing you and seeing the branches you've bent on your way through the woods, I feel excited about this staggering uncertainty we've entered...
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  • Absolutely Brilliant!
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New Tools for Personal Learning

  1. 1. New Tools for Personal Learning Stephen Downes MEFANET 2009 Conference Brno, Czech Republic, November 25, 2009
  2. 2. Prologue <ul><li>It turns out to be very easy to teach people things - people are very impressionable </li></ul><ul><li>What proves to be very hard is teaching people the right things - how not to learn </li></ul>
  3. 3. What I do
  4. 4. 16000 Posts <ul><li>What does 16,000 posts look like? </li></ul>
  5. 5. Complicated, Complex
  6. 6. The (First) Butterfly Thesis a butterfly flapping its wings in South America can affect the weather in Central Park…. so why don’t we get that butterfly?
  7. 7. The Three Body Problem
  8. 8. Connectivism: Engagement <ul><li>There is no curriculum, no theory, no body of knowledge </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(or, more accurately, the curriculum is the McGuffin) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The product is not the knowledge, it is the learner </li></ul><ul><li>It’s not that there’s nothing to learn, it’s that it’s complex and needs to be navigated… </li></ul>not memorized
  9. 9. The three Ls: language, logic and learning
  10. 10. First Theme <ul><li>active engagement, not passive observation… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>a bit like ANT, but no presumption of commonality, translation… </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>a bit like action research, but no presumption of a community of practice </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Thinking for yourself Critical thinking and reflection
  12. 12. Free Learning <ul><li>The picture of learning you should have is one of a large set of connected nodes (like the neurons in a brain) </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>Teachers are nodes, students are nodes </li></ul><ul><li>Both teaching and learning consists of sending and receiving communications to other nodes </li></ul>
  14. 14. <ul><li>Aggregate </li></ul><ul><li>Remix </li></ul><ul><li>Repurpose </li></ul><ul><li>Feed Forward </li></ul>
  15. 15. It’s a river, not a reservoir Surfing Sensing Experiencing pattern recognition
  16. 16. The Idea of the PLE…
  17. 17. Plex Personal Learning Environment Example
  18. 18. Collecting and Filtering RSS
  19. 19. RSS Writr
  20. 20. FeedForward
  21. 21. Second Theme <ul><li>Learning…. vs the right learning </li></ul>
  22. 22. Understanding Interdependence <ul><li>= no simple principles </li></ul><ul><li>= no simple cause & effect </li></ul>
  23. 23. Me and my network of friends Aggregate Remix Repurpose Feed Forward
  24. 24. Network Structures - Tree Central Influence Power Law Viral Hierarchy
  25. 25. Network Structures - Mesh Distributed Discussion Balanced Reflective Democracy
  26. 26. Individualism vs Mutuality <ul><li>Independent variables vs dependent variables </li></ul><ul><li>eg. Rational decision - vs role model </li></ul>The myth of solitary autonomy
  27. 27. When we ourselves become the story
  28. 28. The Sharing Thesis <ul><li>Not just competition - cooperation </li></ul><ul><li>Open Educational Resources (OERs) </li></ul><ul><li>The only sustainable model </li></ul>
  29. 29. The (Second) Butterfly Thesis
  30. 30. Connectivism <ul><li>“ At its heart, connectivism is the thesis that knowledge is distributed across a network of connections, and therefore that learning consists of the ability to construct and traverse those networks.” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What Connectivism Is </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>
  31. 31. Course Components <ul><li>The Wiki… </li></ul>
  32. 32. Course Components <ul><li>Course Moodle Forum </li></ul>
  33. 33. Third Theme <ul><li>Groups vs networks </li></ul>
  34. 34. Nancy White - Me, We, Network
  35. 35. Objects We Care About <ul><li>Nancy White - networks, not just about connecting the people, but the objects they care about </li></ul>
  36. 36. The object system, revisited Distributed Resources
  37. 38. Repositories and Syndication <ul><li>Academic - OAI-PMH, Dspace, Fedora, Eprints, SWORD, Connexion, OCW </li></ul><ul><li>Web - Flickr, YouTube, Slideshare </li></ul>RSS OAI DC Atom
  38. 39. Self-organization - metronomes
  39. 40. Network Learning… <ul><li>Hebbian associationism </li></ul><ul><ul><li>based on concurrency </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Back propagation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>based on desired outcome </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Boltzman </li></ul><ul><ul><li>based on ‘settling’, annealing </li></ul></ul>Self Organization
  40. 41. The application provides mechanisms to input, process, and distribute content.
  41. 42. Page Creation Pages are created automatically from a database of content types
  42. 43. Feed Management Content input comes from RSS feeds harvested by gRSShopper
  43. 44. Incoming content can be mapped to any of a variety of data types
  44. 45. Course Components <ul><li>The Daily </li></ul>
  45. 46. Course Components <ul><li>Feed Harvesting </li></ul>
  46. 47. The Students <ul><li>The Course Map… </li></ul>
  47. 48. <ul><ul><li>Social Networks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>blogs and blogging </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>wikis and collaborative writing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>tagging and Digg and… </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Web 2.0 </li></ul>Stallman The Internet of 2007
  48. 49. The Internet of 2009 <ul><li>Beyond Web 2.0 </li></ul>
  49. 50. Creating Course Components <ul><li>Pageflakes Site </li></ul>
  50. 51. Widgets and Gadgets
  51. 52. Widget Landscape
  52. 53. Google Wave
  53. 54. Opera Unite
  54. 55. Windows Live Mesh <ul><li> </li></ul>
  55. 56. Firefox Plain Old Web Server
  56. 57. <ul><li>Networks of interactions (aggregate, remix, repurpose, feed forward) – syndication </li></ul>An ecology…
  57. 58. <ul><li>The personal learning centre </li></ul> Autonomy
  58. 59. <ul><li>The Network is Diverse – multiple views, multiple technologies </li></ul>
  59. 60. <ul><li>The Network is connected and interactive ( not ‘integrated’) – small pieces, loosely joined </li></ul>
  60. 61. <ul><li>The Network is open </li></ul>
  61. 62. <ul><ul><ul><li>Stephen Downes </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul>