How can technology that we are able to build with today’s tools help us to solve the big problems of individuals, organizations, and the world at large? More specifically: How can we use the internet in the best way to improve our collective problem-solving capabilities? Questions like these don’t seem to be asked very often, perhaps because people usually focus on specific problems, rather than general problem-solving in its own right.
Today, a vast plethora of different websites, online platforms, and apps exists. Currently, the web is dominated by what can be called web 2.0 platforms, which facilitate social interactions and collaborative co-creation. Can these platforms help us to use some kind of global Collective Intelligence (CI) that is actually good at solving difficult problems? The answer is probably yes. Nevertheless, there doesn’t seem to be one single absolutely prominent platform that is really dedicated to solving serious real-world problems by using CI. Again, this may come from people not seeing themselves as problem-solvers, or not associating the internet with solving big problems – as opposed to solving “minor” problems like boredom.
Play is learning. As Vygotsky noted, it “contains all developmental tendencies in a condensed form and is itself a major source of development.”
Virtually every child, the world over, plays. The drive to play is so intense that children will do so when they have no real toys, when parents do not actively encourage the behavior, and even in the middle of a war zone. In the eyes of a young child, running, pretending, and building are fun. Researchers and educators know that these playful activities benefit the development of the whole child across social, cognitive, physical, and emotional domains. Yet, while experts continue to expound a powerful argument for the importance of play in children’s lives, the actual time children spend playing continues to decrease. Today, children play eight hours less each week than their counterparts did two decades ago . Under pressure of rising academic standards, play is being replaced by test preparation in kindergartens and grade schools, and parents who aim to give their preschoolers a leg up are led to believe that flashcards and educational “toys” are the path to success. Our society has created a false dichotomy between play and learning.
At the University of Lincoln, the student as producer agenda is seeking to disrupt consumer-based learning relationships by reinventing the undergraduate curriculum along the lines of research-engaged teaching. The open education movement, with its emphasis on creative commons and collaborative working practices, also disrupts traditional and formal campus-based education. This paper looks at the linkages between the Student as Producer project and the processes of embedding open educational practice at Lincoln. Both reinforce the need for digital scholarship and the prerequisite digital literacies that are essential for learning in a digital age.
Big Data research is currently split on whether and to what extent Twitter can be characterized as an informational or social network. We contribute to this line of inquiry through an investigation of digital humanities (DH) scholars’ uses and gratifications of Twitter. Our findings show that Twitter is considered a critical tool for informal communication within DH invisible colleges, functioning at varying levels as both an information network (learning to ‘Twitter’ and maintaining awareness) and a social network (imagining audiences and engaging other digital humanists). We find that Twitter follow relationships reflect common academic interests and are closely tied to scholars’ pre-existing social ties and conference or event co-attendance. The concept of the invisible college continues to be relevant but requires revisiting. The invisible college formed on Twitter is messy, consisting of overlapping social contexts (professional, personal and public), scholars with different habits of engagement, and both formal and informal ties. Our research illustrates the value of using multiple methods to explore the complex questions arising from Big Data studies and points toward future research that could implement Big Data techniques on a small scale, focusing on subtopics or emerging fields, to expose the nature of scholars’ invisible colleges made visible on Twitter.
We examine the relationship between scholarly practice and participatory technologies and explore how such technologies invite and reflect the emergence of a new form of scholarship that we call Networked Participatory Scholarship: scholars’ participation in online social networks to share, reflect upon, critique, improve, validate, and otherwise develop their scholarship. We discuss emergent techno-cultural pressures that may influence higher education scholars to reconsider some of the foundational principles upon which scholarship has been established due to the limitations of a pre-digital world, and delineate how scholarship itself is changing with the emergence of certain tools, social behaviors, and cultural expectations associated with participatory technologies.
Recently, Bechtel has been experimenting with Self-Organized Learning Environments, or SOLEs, in her elementary school classes. SOLEs are short forays into the kind of self-organized learning that Sugata Mitra found to be so powerful. In a classroom SOLE, Bechtel asks her students a “messy question,” something that doesn’t have just one right answer, then sets them loose to research the question in small groups. Students choose who they work with, find their own information, draw their own conclusions and present their findings to the whole class. It can be a bit chaotic, but Bechtel says that’s often good. “There’s chaos and then there’s learning and you can tell the difference,” Bechtel said. She’s excited about SOLE because the method has students asking questions and taking ownership in a whole new way. The IB program already emphasizes inquiry and finding information for oneself, but Bechtel says the total freedom of the SOLE has actually pushed students to go deeper, come up with more varied results and to help one another collaboratively.
What if the scientific method were no longer necessary? A bold statement, but one that Wired’s Chris Anderson posits in his 2008 article, extolling the virtues of “Big Data.” Looping back to Anderson’s original premise on the ascendency of Big Data, it’s becoming clear that these tools are a valuable addition to existing research methodologies, particularly where large amounts of information are in play, but not a replacement for them. Superseding the human element seems to equate rational analysis with nuanced thinking and quantifiable results with understanding – two aspects that we’ll continue to rely on academics, scientists and researchers to interpret for us.
The role of the librarian is to connect users to information. We do so by organizing and managing content and its connection points, but our role goes further by making content “social” so that it’s findable. According to Ulrich’s, a source for bibliographic and publisher information, there exist over 300,000 periodicals and 400 abstracting and indexing sources to assist in identifying content. When I think about how users access scholarly content, the expression “path of least resistance” comes to mind. There is so much content for information seekers to sift through that libraries have advanced past the online catalog for quick look-up to installing a discovery system to unify all of their electronic and print resources in one index. It allows our users to discover content quicker, with a single search interface, using filters to achieve desired results. But, this is where publishers need to think how to make their content social and likable by the relevancy rankings within discovery systems and search engines. If anyone is going to find your published content, it will need to appear at the top of the search results page.
We spend much time these days wondering when the academic journal as we know it will cease to exist. Opinions on the future of journals vary widely. There are those who say it will live forever and others who see the journal as an ugly reminder of the sins of big publishers – exploitative vehicles for dragging a profit from those who can’t afford to pay.
Perhaps it is worth taking a step back and asking ourselves why the journal exists in the first place.
There seems to be something special about coworking spaces. As researchers who have, for years, studied how employees thrive, we were surprised to discover that people who belong to them report levels of thriving that approach an average of 6 on a 7-point scale. This is at least a point higher than the average for employees who do their jobs in regular offices, and something so unheard of that we had to look at the data again. It checked out. So we were curious: What makes coworking spaces – defined as membership-based workspaces where diverse groups of freelancers, remote workers, and other independent professionals work together in a shared, communal setting – so effective? And are there lessons for more traditional offices?