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Learning and Creating Knowledge in Social Networks


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Presented to Desire2Learn Ignite conference, Melbourne

Published in: Education, Technology
  • I've just read the 1850s lecture on what is a university from (Cardinal) John Henry Newman which you use a quote from here in relation to learning and creating knowledge in social networks. I've been a big fan of his for some time now and indeed there are some very interesting points to ponder over in trying to define where the university is now and what it is becoming through technology and the coming of age in open education.
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Learning and Creating Knowledge in Social Networks

  1. 1. Learning and creating knowledge in a social networked era George Siemens, PhD September 9, 2013 Presented to: Desire2Learn Ignite Conference Melbourne, Australia
  2. 2. Slides: (citations and sources in notes pane)
  3. 3. Intent of this presentation: Detail the networks as an organizing structure for knowledge and learning Emphasize the need to transition to thinking in networks as a way of understanding and participating in science, society, learning, education, and creativity activities
  4. 4. We always lived in a connected world, except we were not so much aware of it…That has changed drastically in the last decade, at many, many different levels. Albert-lászló Barabási
  5. 5. Structural holes Burt, 1992 Figure  2.6:  Structural  holes  and  weak  8es  
  6. 6. Weak & strong ties Granovetter, 1973
  7. 7. “Intense connectivity can homogenize the pool…high cohesiveness can lead to the sharing of common rather than novel information” Uzzi, Spiro (2005)
  8. 8. Dormant ties: Value of reconnecting Weak ties: novelty and efficiency Strong ties: trust shared perspective Levin, Walter & Murnighan, 2011
  9. 9. “All the knowledge is in the connections” David Rumelhart  
  10. 10. “To ‘know’ something is to be organized in a certain way, to exhibit patterns of connectivity. “To ‘learn’ is to acquire certain patterns” Stephen Downes
  11. 11. 870k papers visualized
  12. 12. h9p://    
  13. 13. Linking  Open  Data  cloud  diagram,  by  Richard  Cyganiak  and  Anja  Jentzsch.  h9p://lod-­‐  
  14. 14. Why do some ideas spread?
  15. 15. "We're constantly being exposed to information on Facebook, Twitter and so on… Some of it we pass on, and a lot of it we don't. Is there something that happens in the moment we first see it…that is different for those things that we will pass on successfully versus those that we won't?” Lieberman, 2013
  16. 16. Getting the “perfect” Reddit submission title Lakkaraju, McAuley, Leskovec, 2013
  17. 17. Anesthesia and antiseptics Gawande, 2013
  18. 18. Hidden influentials in cascades (hubs often inhibit spread of information) Moreno, 2013
  19. 19. Dow,  Adamic,  Friggeri,  2013  
  20. 20. Spicer, 2013 London Whale: How to lose $6b+
  21. 21. Metal workers: cylinders Steam Wheels Motion Transportation need Viability Scientific progress Entrepreneurship
  22. 22. “a thousand threads that lead from the locomotive to the very beginning of the modern world” Rosen, 2010
  23. 23. “The process may be more like stitching together known parts than pioneering a complete route from scratch” W. Bryan Arthur, 2006
  24. 24. The power of an ecosystem
  25. 25. October, 2001 Courtesy  of  Apple  
  26. 26. April, 2003
  27. 27. October, 2005 TV shows, music videos (September, 2006, full length movies)
  28. 28. January, 2007 Courtesy  of  Apple  
  29. 29. Network theory of change The integration of services provides the value for end users
  30. 30. Systems are now socio-technical. Cognition is no longer only “in our heads”. Technology is a part of our cognitive structure.
  31. 31. Networks become powerful through lock-in and integration i.e. what they exclude
  32. 32. Today in education, we are witnessing an unbundling of previous network structures. And a rebundling of network lock-in models.
  33. 33. Silicon Valley Shockley Terman
  34. 34. With increased complexity, (lack of) sensemaking in socio-technical systems leads to disastrous results
  35. 35. Bhopal, 1984
  36. 36. Mann Gulch, Collapse of sensemaking Weick 1993
  37. 37. Black hawk shoot down, 1994: “was caused by a chain of events” GAO Report
  38. 38. Distributed content and conversations gRSShopper   h9p://    
  39. 39. John Baker, 2013
  40. 40. Soft is hard and hard is easy Jon Dron
  41. 41. “web-based participatory culture is subverting and destabilizing a top-down cultural industry model of education that has evolved around the medium of the book.” Hanke, B. 2011
  42. 42. From guesses and hype to data and analytics Kolata (NY Times), 2013
  43. 43. Transparent boundaries…new ones being formed (yes, classroom walls are thinning, but the transition is broader)
  44. 44. h9p://    
  45. 45. Incorporating network attributes into learning design: - Resonance - Diversity - Learning control - Optimal network structures - Knowledge profile/imprint - Competence as configuration of networks - Peer learning and information flow - Why some ideas/concepts go viral
  46. 46. A university as “assemblage of strangers from all parts in one spot” J.H. Newman Lecturers 1854-1859
  47. 47. Twitter/Gmail: gsiemens