Web 2.0 and Education Seminar (VI): Brian Lamb: It’s all coming apart

Brian Lamb, Department of Emerging Technologies & Digital Content, University of British Columbia (Canada)
Brian Lamb: It’s all coming apart

Originality is overrated: Glenn Gould, William Shakespeare, Rick Prelinger… in one way or another have faced the fact of originality… or if there’s none.

Being open is not a matter of altruism, but a good practice for your self and your own efficiency.

Use information as a flow, not like a thing, Stephen Downes in managing information overload.

The power of positive narcissism: you discover interesting content, people by just tracking back your content, what it’s been told about you, etc.

There’s a problem with that lot of different licenses, confusing the user/creator. And people not using them properly…

As long as you use open formats, they can be reused, or used in several ways/platforms. Also, updating is automatic everywhere that is linking/embedding/feeding from your RSS output. Open APIs is just another way of opening your content, but by opening a function that will retrieve a content.

More than media literacy: data literacy.

Need to solve everything, every schizophrenia now? The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still have the ability to act (F. Scott Fitzgerald). There’re some (lots of them) things that can actually be done just without entering in any contradiction or going against mainstream.

More info


UOC UNESCO Chair in Elearning Fourth International Seminar. Web 2.0 for Education (2007)

Web 2.0 and Education Seminar (V): Ambjörn Naeve: The Human Semantic Web – Increasing the Global Organizational Performance of Humanity Inc.

Ambjörn Naeve, Head of Knowledge Management Research Group, KTH/Nada/Media (Sweden)
The Human Semantic Web – Increasing the Global Organizational Performance of Humanity Inc.

From teacher-centric, curricular-oriented “knowledge push” to learner-centric, interest-oriented “knowledge pull”.

The Semantic Web opens the gate towards the globally annotated information age, in opposition to recorded or transmitted information age. We all become librarians.

Being a generalist (knowing less about more things) or a specialist (knowing more about less things). You have to choose, but cannot be both. The question is: how to solve problems when you do need both kind of knowledges?

We need to improve the representation of reality, to make it more and more simple. Reinventing the wheels, beginning from scratch is no more an option, it takes too long… or it is just impossible to catch up with the speed of change.

We cannot use negative motivations — e.g. do your homework or get punished — in education.

Curricular-oriented knowledge push leads to:

  • Lack of student interest
  • Life long teaching (or tenure based teaching), instead of life long learning.
  • lack of motivation to know why (whitehead)
  • decreasing interest in the “hard fun”

Technology helps enabling non-traditional communication forms, support global content sharing, the formation of distributed learning communities.

The semantic web information architecture virtually converts the whole web into a huge database, a relational database of content and people.

The information about the information (metadata): From document based (XML), centralized, to graph-based (RDF), distributed.

Integrate people, processes and technology to manage/create knowledge. Knowledge is not about technology, but about people. And it’s becoming more and more important not to know but to know who knows.

We live in a Knowledge Emulation Society, not a Knowledge Society, is the impression of knowledge we work with.

Ever decreasing attention span: from homo sapiens to homo zapping.

From cogito ergo sum to “I am seen, therefore I exist”, the medial mass hysteria.

The power of thinking is to know what to think about.

Nobody can teach you anything: a good teacher can inspire you to learn. Teaching should be left to computers. People, teachers of flesh and blood, are to inspire, to encourage. Your learning motivation is based on the experience of subject excitement and faith in your learning capacity from a live teacher. Your learning is enhanced by taking control of your own learning process. We have to reintroduce school rights, and remove school duties.

Seven different Knowledge Roles:

  • Knowledge Cartographer: constructs context-maps
  • Knowledge Librarian: fills context-maps with content-components
  • Knowledge Composer: combines content-components into learning models
  • Knowledge Coach: cultivates questions
  • Knowledge Preacher: provides live answers
  • Knowledge Plummer: connects questions to relevant preachers
  • Knowledge Mentor: supplies motivation and supports self reflection

We’re living in a knowledge emulation society, and forgetting reflection. We will probably be living anyway in emulation, but have to focus on reflection, on putting content before the form and not form before the content.

Fragmented science and technology, Desire for effectiveness and efficacy; and Integrated human development and wisdom, all combined have the following side effects (adapted from Petger Senge)

  • Environmental damage
  • Loss of community
  • Loss of tradition
  • Technological divide
  • Complexity of social and environmental challenges
  • Belief that any technology can solve such problems
More info


UOC UNESCO Chair in Elearning Fourth International Seminar. Web 2.0 for Education (2007)

Web 2.0 and Education Seminar (IV): Graham Attwell: Web 2.0, Personal Learning Environments and the future of schooling

Keynote speech: Graham Attwell, Director of Pontydysgu (UK)
Web 2.0, Personal Learning Environments and the future of schooling

We are probably in the biggest Industrial Revolution, and we’re living it [I couldn’t agree more].

In Wales, the First Industrial revolution (1830-1950) took 50 years (1890-1900) to impact education: universal education, etc. In this industrial revolution, the impact has taken place in just 10 years maximum and in a broader scope and deeper changes. BUT someone from the XIXth century would enter a XXIth century classroom and recognize it: classroom has changed very very little in more than 150 years.

Bizarre effect: while in the instructional technology debate there’s an agreement that Virtual Learning Environments (VLE) are dead, our schools, universities are probably spending more money on VLEs now than ever. Change… speed of change…

Not technology, but the changing ways in which people are using technologies to communicate, to exchange knowledge.

We ban new technologies at school — e.g. cellulars — because they are disruptive but we teach them, at school, how to learn to use new technologies. How do we cope with this?

Key point of Web 2.0: enables learners to be cocreators of their knowledge.

It is not lack of technology that stops people from using computers for learning, as a survey on SMEs showed.

  • Much informal learing using ICT in the workplace
  • The main ‘e-learning’ application is Google. Not the VLE (well, normally there’s none)
  • Informal learning driven by problem solving
  • Learning motivated by personal interest
  • Learning usually takes place when it is needed
  • Highly influenced by context
  • They’re social
  • In time learning
  • Is it e-Learning? Is it learning?
  • Learners structure their own learning
  • And there’s many types of learning

These diverse ways of learning do make a difference: you can be guided by an expert (Lev Vygotsky), learn socially through judgement and exploration (John Seely Brown), searching, lurking… And lurking is learning.

Hence, a problem is created: how do we recognize these different ways of learning? We’re no doubt confusing recognition with certification. We should come up with ways of recognizing learning without certification, without exams.

Learning takes place in enterprises:

  • where employees have more freedom
  • where there’s more change
  • where there’s technology
  • where there’re networks

Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) might not be the answer to these questions, but they do point the trend.

We need to bring the learners in the process of design of learning but also in the process of the design of technology and the design of institutions.

The role for teachers will be mediating, engaging, monitoring, helping, motivating…

More info

Communities of Learning vs. Communities of Practice? Learning itself is not a practice in itself, so they have things in common, but they are definitely different.

My Comments — his answers

Q: What about assessment in PLEs? or even in e-Portfolios, the blood brother of the Personal Learning Environment?

A: Do we really need to assess someone’s knowledge or capabilities? Assessment is actually a barrier for both learners and pedagogists. What about self-assessment?

Raquel Xalabarder reads my mind and states that, outside of the educational system, you maybe need some assessment to give guarantees to an employer, to a customer — e.g. a physicist’s patient.

A: Not that assessment is a thing to avoid, but it should be taken outside the learning process. On the other hand, self-assessment is reflection and thus becomes part of the learning process.


UOC UNESCO Chair in Elearning Fourth International Seminar. Web 2.0 for Education (2007)

Web 2.0 and Education Seminar (III): Larry Johnson: Second Life as an educational space

Larry Johnson, Chief Executive Officer. New Media Consortium (USA)
Case Study 1. Second Life as an educational space

Larry Johnson speaks about the experience of the NMC at Second Life for educational purposes.

NMC Virtual Worlds to help build Second Life, to build things in Second Life. For instance, Second Health, to explore new ways for health systems, and shifting from hospitals for ill people to hospitals for healthy people. Second Life was useful to create different stories by filming series of videos — machinima — and then deliver them outside Second Life. The stories were also created as teaching materials simulating heart attacks, limps, etc.

Second Health: Polyclinic Tour


Second Health: Emergency and Specialist Care

Traffic data about Second Life use in NMC islands show that people spend most of their SL time not inside classrooms but on the “open air”. So, besides the formal or official purpose that gets people inside SL, a conclusion is clear: it is a social space, it is social software.

Another powerful thing to state about Second Life is that people can express themselves, and can do it in a lot of ways, in a very compelling visual way.

And SL is 100% user built. And SL world changes constantly.

The type of interaction that takes place in SL is really different from anything previous. The fact that you have to go to a common place, to meet through the glass, makes the experience more immersive.


Graham Attwell states that these are good technologies because of their multiuser aspect, but most probably are transitional technologies — such as Facebook — until we come with open, standardized technologies. Larry Johnson answers that early pioneers — and his example is America On Line — are just for that, to disclose new spaces: Who cares now about AOL? But they were great!

National Center for Academic Transformation.


UOC UNESCO Chair in Elearning Fourth International Seminar. Web 2.0 for Education (2007)

Web 2.0 and Education Seminar (II): Juan Freire: Web 2.0: institutional challenges

Juan Freire, Universidade de A Coruña (Spain)
Web 2.0: institutional challenges

Promises and reality

Change in learning paradigms: from the teacher centered to the creation of networks. Strong focus in learning by doing and collaborative and active learning.

Problem: web 2.0 explorers exist, but not backed up institutionally, creating a digital divide inside universities, between individuals and the institutions.

Beyond technology

Web 2.0 more than a technology: social change.

Many different tools, open and linked one to each other, connected, easy to use… thus creating a whole ecosystem.

Important question: the crossover between people and content that takes place in the Web 2.0, hence bringing in the capability for social creation of content.

If learning is (increasingly) taking place outside the classroom, how can universities adapt?

Open knowledge: independent, low cost, modular, generative.

From consumers to creators, but also curators. Their role is crucial for filtering overwhelming content you can “use” as personal filters, educated users that can help you to navigate the exuberance of information. Hence: new roles for both teachers and students. The formers should become mentors, designers, assessors; the laters, active learners, collaborators, networkers.

Bottlenecks for institutional adoption

The main problem is users (and the institutions they conform): habits, incentives, aversion to change…

Need to change a new knowledge culture. Fostered by the entrance of digital natives into the (educational) system?

Ironically, the presence of Web 1.0 tools are a threat for the adoption of Web 2.0 apps: new technologies distrust, need to pay off large investments, etc.

Institutional fears

A difficult balance to achieve: visibility vs. security and trust. Social network applications as a solution? The “Facebook approach”: the ability to manage people an content in a joint manner, along with the possibility to integrate third parties’ applications.

Elements for a strategy in Universities

Leaders should promote a cultural change… beginning with themselves.

Benefit from (inside) lead users and (outside) lead institutions to copy good practices and avoid bad ones: integrate tools along with practices.

Free content to enhance (knowledge) networks. From a closed university to an open one, enter the conversation.

Open vs. closed: lower costs (crowdsourcing), acceleration of innovation, increase creativity.

More info
Comments — his answers

Begoña Gros asks whether we should copy the research methodology to teaching? Well, maybe, the problem is that research nowadays is not open: provided one shares results, the data sets, the processes are not open. It is highly probable that it will happen just the other way: teaching will change the way research is done.

Brian Lamb states that the problem with Web 2.0 apps is that everyone likes their favorite app (blogs, wikis…) and the favorite “brand” for that app (WordPress, Blogger…), so how to cope with this?

A key point is to show what’s the use, the benefit of technologies for the students, not just use them. And find good examples, even if the teacher is not this example.

My comments

Q: Is (un)availability of pre-web 2.0 technology (in classrooms, at home) an advantage or a problem? Leapfrogging technologies overpassing (ancient) habits or lack of digital literacy or? The ability to understand how technologies work because you could (web 1.0) “touch” them is it a capability or you just don’t need to know how to code because Web 2.0 apps are “so easy” to use/install? And not just “technological literacy”, but also issues about privacy, security, copyright, etc.

A: It is important not only to use Web 2.0 tools but to design them, build them, try them. And the reason to do so is that everyone (people, institutions) is different and thus technologies need to be adapted to their needs.


UOC UNESCO Chair in Elearning Fourth International Seminar. Web 2.0 for Education (2007)

Web 2.0 and Education Seminar (I): Phil Long: Web 2.0 and education: an overall look

Live notes at UOC UNESCO Chair in Elearning Fourth International Seminar: Web 2.0 and Education, held in Barcelona, Spain, 17, 18 and 19 October 2007.

Keynote speech: Phil Long, Assoc. Director of the Office of Educational Innovation and Technology. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA)
Web 2.0 and education: an overall look

Connectivity will be pervasive: everywhere everywhen we’ll be connected.

(Phil Long goes over a good bunch of Web 2.0 apps)

Web 2.0: to leverage the sociability and human characteristics of the web users.

Creation of a notion of a sixth sense: connected to your extended network, your online and offline presences tracked, etc.

Social networking sites really pervasive among youngsters, massively accessed not only through the web but also through mobile phones.

Convergence of different platforms for learning, including new tools such as digital ink, digital ink pens, scanners on mobile phones, Qr-codes for cellulars, etc.

Active learning with iCampus.

  • iLab: access real labs through virtual apps, so the student can experience the feeling of interacting with the physical device, without the need of having several (expensive) distributed physical devices installed: It is not a simulation, it is real data.
  • MIT Lecture Browser lets you search keywords (text) over lectures (voice, video), find where the keyword was used and then listen or watch the digitized lecture. It’s got a Web 2.0 component where the user can correct sentences that were not properly written, transcribed, linked, etc.

Most learning does not happen inside the bricks and mortar classrooms, but everywhere.

Extend Real Life in Second Life: what can you do in this space that you couldn’t in the physical world?

Educational technologies are not “spectator sport” but “participative sport”.

It is ridiculous that you’ll be teaching students content that they will remember, as it is predicted that content will double every 11 hours by year 2010. You should train them to know where to find, store content, how to access it, how to remix and use it.

Authority and evaluation changing radically.

My comments — his answers

Q: What about attention and engagement? How to keep focus?

A: Are this problems of the Internet, the Web 2.0… or ancient problems? Maybe technology is just making this more visible.

Q: How not to, ironically, increase drop out rates because of more demanding technologies/educational methodologies?

A: I want to be competitive in this environment so that people choose to study my subjects instead of browsing everywhere else. But yes, we have to be aware of the time, attention we require to our students, that might feel like they are drinking from the fire hose. Engagement not at the cost of leaving aside other aspects of life.

More info


UOC UNESCO Chair in Elearning Fourth International Seminar. Web 2.0 for Education (2007)