Roots of Connectivism – Siemens

George Siemens presented “Roots of Connectivism” to our EC&I 831 group on September 29, 2009. George provided a basic understanding of various theories of knowledge & learning (e.g., behaviorism, cognitivism, social constructivism, constructionism, neuroscience) as he led us toward a theory of connectivism. I warned my students beforehand that the presentation would be theoretically heavy, and our presenter (no surprise) provided us with the challenge of (re)thinking of our assumptions on learning.

As an aside, a tweet from one of the participants summed up what I have noticed about George’s presentation style. Great session by @gsiemens underway at . GS is attentive and handles an online audience with unusual dexterity.

Greater detail of the presentation within the context of the course can be found at the EC&I 831 wiki. The presentation was facilitated via Elluminate and the recording of that session, including the chat, can be found at this location. Slidedeck and audio-only version (MP3) are available below. Enjoy!

Beggar Robots

I am not sure if this is authentic, but the concept is fascinating. It seems to be the work of Slovenian “contemporary visual artist” named Sašo Sedlaček.

The Beggar Robot has access to areas normally off-limits to beggars, such as shopping malls and community events, where the richer members of society more often frequent. The hypothesis is that this part of society is only able to show some sympathy towards the marginalized if they communicate from a safe distance and via a technological interface. The project tests and exploits the advantages of robotic interface by bringing the Beggar Robot to public spaces in different countries and adapting it to the local context and local language, to beg in the name of the poor.

Internet Addiction?

Several people I know have recently confessed of their perceived addiction to the Internet. I do not think this diagnosis can be described as broad as “Internet addiction” without getting a better understanding of what exactly draws them to connect (e.g., socialization, information, gaming, combinations of these, etc.). In any case, I believe that addictions associated to existing and emerging technologies are real, and understanding these will be of increasing importance to educators, parents, and our youth.

Internet Addict!

Chinese doctors recently “released the country’s first diagnostic definition of Internet addiction” in the midst of increases to psychological disorders attributed to Internet overuse. The country will officially designate hospital psychiatric units to treat cases of Internet addiction.

So, do you fit the bill?

Symptoms of addiction included yearning to get back online, mental or physical distress, irritation and difficulty concentrating or sleeping. The definition, based on a study of more than 1,300 problematic computer users, classifies as addicts those who spend at least six hours online a day and have shown at least one symptom in the past three months.

See full article here.

Update: There is a better article on the same development at the Times Online.

Photo Credit: nataliejohnson

Kunstler on (Virtual) Reality

James Howard Kunstler, social critic and author of The Long Emergency, has got me thinking. Here are a few passages from Kunstler’s essay, Virtual is No Refuge for the Real.

One of the extremely painful lessons of our time, I’m convinced, will be that the virtual is not an adequate substitute for the real. It will be painful because the notion of virtuality has become a psychological crutch for a culture that is recklessly destructive of real places, real experiences, real relationships with real people, and real notions of purposeful, decent behavior….

One of the most popular beliefs of the computer era has been that virtual places are every bit as okay as real places….

For adults the result has been an amazing amount of pervasive situational loneliness. Despite the fact that so many Americans own a car there is no place to go, at least no places of casual socializing unrelated to chain store commerce. So the chat rooms and listservs of the Internet are supposed to take the place of actually being somewhere.

What do you think? Have you given these ideas much thought?

These are important problems and concepts that have weighed on me for the past several years as my time in virtual spaces certainly has increased. And I will be thinking of these issues as I explore Connectivism with many of you as CCK08 starts (officially) kicks off tomorrow.

Is Google Making Us Stupid?

Can you relate?

Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going—so far as I can tell—but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when I’m reading. Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That’s rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if I’m always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.

I certainly can. Read this article, that is, if your attention span allows it.

Visual Perception Videos

I noticed this colour changing card trick today that I feel would be useful for sessions demonstrating concepts related to visual perception.

There was another one floating around Youtube a few years ago (has been since removed) and I was surprised to learn that a lot of people hadn’t seen it. Follow the instructions carefully and then watch the video.

    1) The video lasts only about 20 seconds.
    2) It is CRITICAL that you focus completely for the twenty seconds to get an accurate result.
    4) This can be tricky since the players in black are only there to distract you.
    6) Do NOT count the number of times the ball is passed between the players in black.
    7) In other words, IGNORE the people in black shirts.
    8) Do NOT read any comments on this post UNTIL you watch the video and post an answer. (Reading posts first may bias your results.)
    9) Do NOT attempt to cheat by pausing frame by frame. Let the video play ALL the way through.

Now, watch the video on this page (it is the contained in the applet below the text).

To learn the answer, view this video.