ODCE 2007:Keynote

I’m at the Ohio Digital Commons for Education today and tomorrow.  I’ll do my best to blog the conference. 

Keynote:  Content, Connections, Conversations
George Siemens
Description: “Content
has, for much of the life of formal education, held the prestigious
central position, reflected in bold statements like “content is king”.
Over the last five years, the web has shifted from write to a
read/write model, where end users contribute to the original voice.
Feedback is constant, original content is fluid. YouTube, blogs, wikis,
podcasts, social book marking, and other simple, social tools have
changed how we relate to each other and to content. These changes in
the online space are now being mirrored in our classrooms and courses.
Learners perceive content as a conduit to conversation. Changing
learner expectations require that educators rethink how learning is
fostered – a shift from passive content consumption to active content
co-creation. How do these changes impact educators? Institutions? The
process of learning?

Will spend some time talking about what is happening with knowledge, technology, and how these apply to the educational institution.

We have a lot of room for optimism in our current educational environment. We have technological tools that will enable educators to implement new ideas and help older ideals come to fruition.

Current model of education is not working, according to Albert Toffler and Bill Gates.  We are not effectively teaching our students. 

Change pressures lead to new methods, new structures and spaces, which creates new affordances.  This is an ongoing loop.

We need to make sure our new model is holistic and be contextually appropriate.  Experts will not tell you how to do things, or which is the best model for your given situation.  It is a matter of which approach is best for the situation, not which tool you use.

Content in education

  • Content is open
  • Mashups
  • Participatory
  • Create, co-create, re-create

Sites like you-Tube are based on the foundations of academics.  As academics, we create, we co-create, we re-create.  YouTube basically amplifies this.


  • Global
  • Open
  • User-controlled
  • Two-way

Content is created through the conversations.

Our devices
Cell phones are prolific.

For continual dialogue, we create communities

  • Content (Flickr)
  • Issues
  • Goals (43 Things)  people with the same goals connect to each other
  • User-filitered  –readers deem what news is the most worthy

As a result, our knowledge is changing
Knowledge is a much more collaborative process today
Learners create meaning out of the content, rather than simply reciting the content


  • To stay current
  • to know and to be known
  • linking, relating, connecting
  • digital life portfolio

Connected sites don’t make you famous for 15 minutes.  Connected sites make you famous to 15 people.
Twitter is an example of this.
Things like IM give you persistent presence

Where does knowledge reside?
Knowledge resides in the networks that we are creating
Vygotsky, Wittgenstein, Spivey


  • Knowledge is held distributed within a network
  • Competence/learning occurs through network connection
  • Technology performs grunt cognition  (example is flickr tag clouds)
  • Capacity to stay current
  • Knowing where/who  (lifelong learning)
  • sense making/pattern recognition

Tools reflect a changed manner of relating to each other and relating to content
wikis, blogs, podcasts, etc

What is a network
nodes and connections

Elements of a complex network system
components + interactions = emergence

Knowing today means understanding ambiguity and uncertainty.

George mentions an oepn source project from University of Manitoba that allows users to create connections about what they want to do.   Not sure what this is, but it may be worth checking out.

Trends in Ohio 
202 % increase in faculty teaching online (since 2004)
279% increased in degrees/certificates online

Have we simply taking our old way of teaching and put it online in Blackboard?  Or are we adapting to these online learners?

Models to move forward
Good management kills innovation
need to adopt a model of perpetual experimentation
Seed, Select, and Amplify
Do something, if it works, do it again.  If it does not work, do something else.  (AMEN!!)

Siemens recommends a text that all librarians to look at: Understanding Knowledge as Commons

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