Comment on #Openlearning17 — Ted Nelson by erinlcrane

That’s good to hear ? I should have said that I’m a librarian, so I probably just end up with the students that are annoyed by the more open assignments. I never hear the good side! Typically the students that are asking for help from the library are the ones who are already at a point of frustration because they couldn’t figure things out on their own. It sounds like, in your experience as a professor, more often than not they are happy with the experience!

Comment on #Openlearning17 — Ted Nelson by A. Nelson

I understand the skepticism! And students coming from our K-12 system have not typically been encouraged or allowed to do much in the way of free range learning.
But I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much motivation increases when students have more responsibility for their learning and more flexibility about which topics and interests they pursue. I do give them some guidance — the rough parameters of the topic, or some suggested readings, and I point them at high value material they might not find on their own. But I try to leave the rest of it pretty open.
I use blogging in most of my courses these days, and have found that a bit of encouragement and genuine interest on my part, combined with feedback from peers makes for posts and F2F interactions that are richer and more interesting than what I used to experience with more traditional formats.

Comment on #Openlearning17 — Ted Nelson by erinlcrane

I like the idea of setting students loose through an enjoyable learning experience/journey… I’m just skeptical that many of them want such an experience. I speak partly from anecdotal evidence of student annoyance when they are allowed to choose their own topic, as a minor example of this. The goal of the teacher is to improve student motivation by allowing them to choose a topic that interests them. But then the students are overwhelmed the options or not really interested in doing the assignment in the first place, so having to choose a topic is just more work. I think Nelson would blame this on the way K-12 education is structured. Students are conditioned a certain way so why should we be surprised if they resist a new type of education. I suppose his argument would be that if the educational experience were highly self-motivated from the very start, they would be conditioned appropriately and handle the options better. I find myself very skeptical … ?

Comment on #Openlearning17 — Ted Nelson by Cathy Saunders

Wow! That’s quite a eulogy. Thanks for sharing.

Reading through your reflections on how Nelson’s objections to CAI and the Computer Priesthood have proven all too prescient (with computers often becoming tools for perpetuating, rather than challenging, the overly-constricted educational structures he deplored — I wonder whether one of Nelson’s mistakes was to imagine computers and all they make possible as a means of presenting information *to* students (however appealingly, and with whatever degree of choice in the path/sequence) rather than imagining them as tools students could use to create themselves.

It seems to me, at least from my disciplinary perspective (the teaching of writing) that one of the best ways to challenge the ongoing (and it certainly feels like increasing) forces of standardization and homogenization is to insist that really good activities and assignments — the ones from which students learn transferrable skills like critical thinking — are ones that evoke unpredictable responses from students (and so must receive feedback, and, if necessary, a grade, from an actual human being — preferably the same one who wrote, and will periodically revise, the assignment). Even in such situations, there’s a certain amount of balancing order (explicit requirements, timelines, directions, etc.) and chaos/unpredictability (what topics will students pick? what potential sources will they find? what will they make of them?), but it’s definitely very different from a curriculum so structured that an algorithm, or at least a human being with only brief training, can provide responses that keep the student “on track.”

Comment on “….it really gets hard when you start believing in your dreams….” — Doug Engelbart by A. Nelson

Good question! (And I’m sorry to be so slow responding to your comment — it was stuck in the spam queue, of all places). Anyway — I think the answer might be “sometimes.” Yes, change is incremental and the process of transformation often proceeds at a moderate pace. But at times the shift is really dramatic — even if you can’t quite see what the future holds, there’s a sense that much is in the balance, that big changes are underway, and that things are moving quickly. I remember having that sense in 1989, which I experienced as a graduate student doing research in Moscow. Every day I emerged from the archive to find the world perceptibly changed, and by fall it was clear that there would be no going back. Things had shifted dramatically and in short order. I do wonder if that’ s what happening now — I’m worried about that in the political sphere, and more intrigued (but also a bit concerned) about the rise of the internet of things.

Comment on “Help Me Grok it and I’ll Help You Make it Real” / Filtering Forward the High Value Trails by A. Nelson

Oh, I really was not thinking about something akin to Reddit. I think I’m imagining something that hasn’t been invented yet much less groked. You would need to intuit the contours as well as the essence of those trail markers / blazes first. I’m still working on the latter. By “context sensitive” I mean specific to the user’s (let’s say my) interests and previous annotating habits (so, algorithms) AND something like the “expert writer” designation on Wikipedia for certain trails. But there would also be something still ineffable that would make locating the networked annotations one wanted more natural and intuitive.
Maybe this will come with the next “paradigm shifting wave of innovation” that will help us solve the world’s increasingly complicated problems? (Where are you Doug Engelbart?)

Comment on “Help Me Grok it and I’ll Help You Make it Real” / Filtering Forward the High Value Trails by Gardner

Well, wow. And of course you had me at “grok.”

I fear that the markers won’t exist without turning into either an upvote-downvote Reddit-style environment (not terrible, actually, but certainly game-able) or limiting its use to certified experts (no, let’s not go there). Perhaps some kind of “verified” system a la Twitter will be helpful, as people may (underscore “may”) be more responsible if they’re using their own names. But my fear is that easy-to-use will always mean it’s a struggle to locate “high value,” unless one uses one’s network as a filter. That’s largely what I do, though I realize the dangers of creating a filter-bubble (aka echo chamber).

When I did a workshop on at Campus Technology last summer, I also quoted George Herbert’s “The Sacrifice,” where one finds the immortal line, “Comments would the text confound.” I put it right up there after an image of the Glossa Ordinaria. These human beings and their ingenuity. Talking all the time! Maybe one day grokking all the time, too, or at least MORE of the time.