One of the seminars I had in mind for quite some time is starting this semester: »Simplicity«. Conceptually it is a sequel to the “Density” seminar that went very well and was insightful for students and me as well. Like “Density” the new seminar is dealing with a particular but general design strategy that seems to be a constant challenge for designers (not only students).
At the first glance there is nothing special to know about “simplicity” as a design strategy. Of course designers need to break complexity and to chop the matter into communicatable, comprehensible and digestable chunks. On the other hand I hear myself (and my collegues) often argue “Keep it simple!” if a student seems to have difficulties to do the chopping at a given stage of a project. Why is it that the process of simplification sometimes makes something elegant and effective and sometimes primitive and boring?
Spike Hall describes some structuring elements in knowledge creation efforts in classes:
- Formal Debate
- Each participant committed to active participation with a reward for doing so.
- Moral Dimension of Student Product: Students were assigned to an
- advisory committee advising a business on the negative impact of
- business activity on public health.
- Student activity within advisory committee constrained within a series
- of production stages.
- First stage: identify facts, debate solutions and propose a synthesis.
- Next three steps: Test the solutions against a prescribed set of principles.
- Final Stage: Provide an [executive] summary
This resembles some of the principles in a course guide (german) I have put online for my own seminars.
Lilia Efimova did a marvelous job on collecting thoughts on “Communities versus Courses”: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.
She also points to Sebastien Paquets weblog research directory.
There is a lot of arguments that need consideration here. Some turn on light bulbs in my head – and I disagree with others. I need to think about these before I can make comments beyond initial reactions.
The two seminars that started last week are picking up steam: One is about “Social software” and one about “Design with algorithms“.
There are not as many students as I expected. So (as actually always): anyone should feel free to join the seminar online.
Found this article from Jay Cross through Lilia Efimova’s weblog and her very iformative post on “Learning: communities vs. courses”
I wish I had more time right now to do a deep dive into this stuff, because it really touches many issues I am interested in. Lilia is making a difference between novice learners and advanced learning. I would also differ what is to be learned individually or in groups. In other words: How well is the problem defined that is supposed to facilitate learning. With ill-defined problems there is much need for the social side of learning, because everyone can (and needs to) reassure assumptions by communicating with other members of the learing group.
The University of Illinois is thinking about starting a Master of Fine Arts in Software. Elegant solutions, engaging ideas, inspiring work; these are some of the defining characteristics of art. Do they apply to software and is software design therefore an artform? [Solitude]
Well, what I can tell for sure is that you need ideas to come up with something new.
»New to teaching online? Consider this resource via Ray: Distance Learning: Step by Step (.pdf)…covers many areas of consideration for the online environment (including assessment and issues in moving to online).« [via elearnspace blog: Distance Learning: Step by Step] [BildungsBlog]
»This is a sourcebook for academics and students who want to develop collaborative learning environments (or communities of practice) in which lecturers, students and others can work together to create new knowledge while learning new skills. Click on the links on the left to browse through the book. The book is currently in the process of being (collaboratively) developed, but already contains quite a lot of useful material.« [via Seblogging News]
»TIP (theory into practics database) is a tool intended to make learning and instructional theory more accessible to educators. The database contains brief summaries of 50 major theories of learning and instruction. These theories can also be accessed by learning domains and concepts.«
»The Encyclopedia of Educational Technology (EET) is a collection of short multimedia articles on a variety of topics related to the fields of instructional design and education and training.« [via BildungsBlog]
What a wonderful collection!
Margaret Driscoll: »As a consultant, I frequently work with business unit managers who are making decisions about online learning. These managers have clear business needs and an in-depth knowledge of technical issues, but they sometimes lack the knowledge needed to make sound educational decisions. As online learning technology becomes more reliable and user-friendly, the real difference between good and bad programs is the instructional design.«
Spike Hall notes some of his experiences over the years using online teaching. Overestimation of technical skills of students and failure to detect problems early are his main two reasons for failure of online education. [Spike Hall’s Weblog]
»The technical support team at B. F. Yancey Elementary keeps the school’s 43 iBooks in good order, tutors students, organizes websites and shows parents how to make presentations. The average age of the team is eight years old.« [Apple Hot News]
For the moment I say that the pay-off of learning-to-learn, aka deuterolearning, is an achieveable, and eminently worthwhile, goal. Weblogs, I believe, are a possible mechanism.
[Connectivity: Spike Hall’s RU Weblog]
»This monograph describes the opportunities and challenges faced by those working to improve the use and sharing of information in education through practices that have come to be known as knowledge management.« [elearningpost]
Katharina Birkenbach started a seperate weblog documenting the process of their diploma work.