Following on from the announcement a couple of days ago, my thoughts about the online live discussion on Thursday:
Thanks Stephan for recording the Elluminate session launching the Knowledge Tree’s 7th run.

on a mac! 60 inches! Personally I was a little disappointed with the session on Thursday afternoon. It was obvious that the speakers hadn’t read each other’s writings and so were unable to talk into each other very much at all. As a result the session didn’t pull focus or settle into a ‘flow’ with the time that was available.

Its interesting really, a talk about barriers and issues with social software, in a setting like a journal and structured conversation. The rigid and silent process, and final communication of a journal paper seems to me to be fundamentally challenged by ‘social software’. Why (as far as I know) was I the only contributor to write in a wiki? Why do the finished writings have to go out as PDFs? What’s wrong with hypertext for referencing, why can’t a blog be ‘robust’?…

As George talked a bit about a week ago with his post on the joys of shallow thinking, he attempts to depict and somewhat justify why noone reads in depth anymore (why no one at the session had read each other’s work) – and why we don’t have to.

Shallow thinking, in this sense, isn’’t as negative as its connotations. Shallow thinking (perhaps I need a better phrase) involves exploring many different sources of information without focusing too heavily on one source. Aggregating at this level helps us to stay informed across broad disciplines. So much of education intends to provide “deep learning””. Often, however, “shallow learning is desired” (i.e. we want to know of a concept, but we don’’t have time or interest to explore it deeply). All we need at this stage is simply the understanding (awareness?) that it exists. Often, learning is simply about opening a door…

I skimmed the other papers in the Tree, but to be honest – while I respect the thought and effort invested in them – at that moment, and the weeks leading up to it, they were not registering in my daily info scans (I would suggest that they would have more if they had of been progressively written publicly, in a wiki say, with a feed). Come the launch, I couldn’t find the time, motivation or mental energy to really try and comprehend what was there, it was all so sudden, so many words, surpising…. a launch.

I suspect everyone in there was guilty of the same shallowness (accept for Jo Murray, who actually helped out in my wiki). But why be guilty, its not as if any of us are actually shallow thinkers!… its just that our information processing has changed, while our collective understanding is still married to more traditional forms or communication, and so the traditions are still adjusting to the swift and radical change…

So anyway, after reviewing the audio and cringing at the obvious disconnections, I picked up on a comment by Dorothy Waterhouse that sadly went by without further discussion. Dot’s comment appears at time code 1:03:53 of the above mp3. She mentioned that she had been noticing a popularity amongst teachers towards ‘social software’ were as the system and organisation wide ‘solutions’ like a Learning Management System had been resisted from the start. In other words, compare the million$ and professional development hours invested in LMS etc, with hardly a cent by comparison with blogging, wikis and other more socially relevant softwares, and notice the energy, passion and drive…

Good point Dorothy. Sorry I didn’t back it up on the night.


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