Friday’s Finds: December 7th Edition

by alison

Unfortunately, illness sidelined my FF last week. But I’m back!

As the world becomes more interconnected and complex, networks—whether that’s learned through Personal Learning Networks developed in Connectivist Massive Online Open Courses or strategies to work in networks within The Coherent Organization—are proposed as the best means to best cope with this new reality.

Sometimes it’s good to go back to the basics and revisit what’s driving these approaches. Not that it was entirely purposeful on my part to do this (I think I owe more to @FredWBaker for his many contributions to my reading/viewing list in that regard!), but seems that recently I’ve encountered (or have perhaps attuned myself to) more resources about complexity.

This great article by Keith Morrison provides good context for our current state of complexity (and goes on to raise important points about the issues that complexity can have in an educational context):

‘Complex adaptive systems’ (Waldrop, 1992, pp. 294-9) scan and sense the external environment and then make internal adjustments and developments in order to survive in those changing external environments … The creation of a unique, and collective identity gives the system and its constituent elements a capability for survival, through increasing differentiation – they become unlike other systems, and, thereby, their uniqueness provides their niche in the world, and that unique situation contributes to their survival … Of course, being too different, just as being too similar, may be threatening to the system; finding one’s survival niche by being similar to, but also different from others, is tricky. This catches the partially antinomial nature of some aspects of complexity theory: cooperation together with competition, similarity together with difference, individuality with collectivity, connectedness with separation, necessary deviance with necessary conformity, diversity with uniformity, partial predictability with partial unpredictability, solipsism with the need to understand collectivities.

It sounds an awful lot like the foundation for networked learning and Personal Learning Networks (PLNs). It also echoes the collective learning and agility envisioned by Senge for the concept of the learning organisation.

I was also lucky enough to run across an article that helped me to situate Kotter’s older change management work with the great ideas I’ve been following through Harold Jarche and his colleagues at the Internet Time Alliance. Thanks to Harold, I learned that Kotter has apparently realised that resilience to change is best supported by agile networks of collaborative, connected learners. If I’m understanding correctly, Kotter’s old stuff was essentially about enacting change in closed systems.

I also watched this TED talk from George Whitesides about establishing a science of simplicity. There’s a lot to take away, but I’ve pulled out a couple of great quotations below:

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler” – Einstein

“You know you’ve achieved perfection in design, not when you have nothing more to add, but when you have nothing more to take away.” – de Saint-Exupery

Some other great reads that I enjoyed (including two that are side interests of mine):

  • Social Learning Strategies from Jane Hart. This is an amazing resource that I think I completely forgot about regarding the  implementation of social/networked learning (is there a difference?)! All answers are in here, I think!
  • Wow. This is the result of a study on what the new work skills/literacies will be by 2020 (link to study included in the article).
  • Jesse Stommel’s online learning manifesto. Bang on.
  • Bonnie Stewart’s companion piece, “MOOCs Are Not a System
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