Archive for the ‘*Future’ Category

The street is where innovation happens

Jan Chipchase at TEDTalks

Nokia researcher Jan Chipchase investigates the ways we interact with technology — a quest that has led him from the villages of Uganda to the insides of our pockets. Along the way, he’s made some unexpected discoveries: about the ways illiterate people use their mobile phones, the new roles the mobile can play in global commerce, and the deep emotional bonds we share with our phones.

TEDBlog: Our cell phones, ourselves: Jan Chipchase on

Loved these 15 minutes with Nokia researcher, Jan Chipchase. I’ve got some loose thoughts and reactions to this, loosely joined – recommend you watch it if you haven’t already! If you have, what did you make of it? I’d be interested to hear from those who attended Mlearn2007 in Melbourne or the Handheld Learning conference whether you have some points to add here? Chipchase starts off with an idea about what we carry on our person and why. He uses this process to outline our behaviours.

Chipchase slide depicting ownership, to usage

He discusses this in relation to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which helps illustrate our behaviour as we go about our daily lives, interacting, connecting and generally surviving. Chipchase also notes the three things we carry most on us 9and how maslow’s hierarchy of needs might be applied to these): 1) keys (for shelter), 2) money (to buy food) and 3) mobile phone (excellent recovery device, and I’d add connecting device).

Chipchase then discusses then phenomenon of ‘the street’: a place where innovation occurs in true fashion and out of necessity. Jan asks: as designers, what lessons can we learn from the street?

  • what does the street say about trust and confidence in (financial) interactions (that we could apply to online and other services)?
  • how might we better design such services?
  • should we be thinking about Personal Area Network (PAN) designs, clothing and integrated wearable technologies, seeing as we are emotionally connected to tools like our mobile phones?
  • even our homes are being identified not by house numbers but by our mobile phone numbers (Jan gives an example of a Ugandan front door inscribed with mobile phone numbers as an identifying feature) – what does this say about our identity? (Alex, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!).

Then Chipchase wraps up with some thoughts and ideas related to these lessons (or questions) from ‘the street’:

  • we must consider the speed at which ideas go around
  • if we are to embrace ‘big’ ideas we must embrace everyone (and 300 billion is getting there!)
  • small and speedy (like mobile phones) highlights the immediacy of objects – we can capitalise on this if we think creatively
  • design – no matter what we intend of a design or object, the street will take it and innovate it further beyond our thinking – how do we create room for this in our designs?
  • with another 300 billion people connected in the future we really must learn how to listen, because these people will want to be part of the conversation!

I like ‘the street’ phenomenon: it conjures up metaphors like ‘streetwise’, ‘street ready’, ‘taking it to the street’, and so. I like the thought too (and practice) of a mobile phone being an ATM! I also liked the notion of illiteracy being managed by some via the ‘art of delegation’. An interesting and useful concept worth exploring further in this rapid-changing world that demands more from us in less time than we’d like: think rapid protoyping, accelerated learning approaches, etc, etc!

In all, I reckon it’s the edge at which we live that pushes us to innovate. If we’re too comfortable what’s the urge? How do we then create the discomfort or disruption to continue to feed that urge in positive ways? Move to Nepal perhaps?

Maybe this isn’t such a bad idea: pushing something like FLNW2 in Thailand, for example, is a big move towards this type of disruption, just as working in the Western desert is (having just had my buddies from Jigalong visit Canberra recently), or “the Bronx”, or with prisoners, or in fact with anyone and anything that disrupts our status quo thinking about the world! That’s a big call for most – how about you?

Education still the punchline for election 2007

Just listened to the Leaders debate. Rudd v Howard. Whilst both were conservative, I’d have to agree that Rudd carried more energy about him than Howard, as these comments show. Nice one too by the ABC to stream the debate live over the Web.

Debate 2007 - ABC TV

[Image: ABC TV]

So, all in all, nothing really new if you’ve been following the campaign before it become The Campaign!

To me, Rudd won with his education policy, or ‘revolution’. The only tete-a-tete was a short joust over education midway through [see short clip here]. Then, with Howard’s big chance to make an impact in his final 2 minutes, all he could do was respond weakly to Rudd’s education revolution, by stating that we needed to go back to basics with education. His initial statement was to say how strong the economy is, and that a strong economy is the most important way to carry Australia forward. That’s as big as saying tax cuts – boring BORING! He had no passion about him regarding anything, policy or otherwise.

I wonder if Rudd will get his wish for two more debates? After tonight’s effort, what do ya reckon? ;o)

Openness, building capacity and affect in learning

PODCAST #1: An Interview with Chris Corrigan


Dave Pollard has posted this wonderful conversation between himself and Chris Corrigan. I was drawn to this firstly by Dave’s ‘table of capacities’ and the actions or acts associated with them – great overview Dave! An audio version is here.

In this time of change, where we are – especially in Australia – being held accountable for learners’ capability development (it’s at least a sound bite that is increasingly being repeated by various sectors of government, education and business) for building our workforce. Often, cynically, I feel it’s just another way of talking about ‘skill sets’. Chris, along with Dave, recounts his theory of openness, sharing his own experiences (openly) to state clearly the role of relationships in our learning. In this he refreshes this tiring perspective I have of capability development and takes it back to where it should be for me!

I’ve also been reading up on the role of expereince in learning for my Masters subject and this conversation is a timely focal point for thinking more broadly about experiential learning. In relation to personalised learning too, it’s about time we put learning back into the hands of learners – that’s the ‘wisest course of action’ (to re-use a phrase by Chris). How often do we need to say this though? Why don’t we ‘get it’ yet?

Anyway, overall, Chris describes three overarching capacities:

  1. Taking action (just do it)
  2. Taking wise action (don’t do it alone, communicate!)
  3. Taking wise action that lasts (sustainabiltiy through relationships)

Chris also uses the terms community and relationships rather than networks, where he sees networks being somewhat superficial, lacking “commitment, accountability and responsibility” and obviously a level of trust is required too.

Hmmm, I’m mulling over this some more..but if you haven’t yet, take a listen or a read. Good stuff! To end, this from Chris’ bio:

I am a facilitator of conversation in the service of emergence.

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Thou shalt not covert thy (learning) specialists

I’ve been reflecting on recent events and readings that have caused me to ponder the state of play in education institutions, especially where much change is evident, and particularly around flexible learning (restructuring is the ‘tool’ of the naughties right 🙂 ).

We’ve seen a growing push for industry engagement with flexible learning, nationally and locally. We’ve seen professional development and its links to broader strategy in varied ways. And a good deal of time has been spent deliberating over the benefits of global versus local efforts on standards and systems. More broadly we see much discussion and activity around the changing nature of learning, of teaching and of organisations that ‘conventionalise’ both (for want of a better word).

What I seem to be hearing in amongst all of this (and from a range of parties) is a ‘need’ for specialists or strategists to make sense of this thing called flexible learning, which is fine and to be expected. But also I’m hearing that “we want YOU in our area/centre/team”! Perhaps it’s a symptom of the constant struggle we see between the centre and the local site. As a specialist, I work in a central area and have the good fortune to work with many people covering diverse subject areas. For example, if I was to be ‘coveted’ in one area specifically, does that not diminish my opportunity to work across a range of sites? Why couldn’t I work across sites of learning?

[image: RobertFrancis] AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike

Embedding specialists is somewhat different I think. Embedding requires an understanding (by the ’embedded’, the ’embedder’ and the ’embeddee’) about the part the specialist will play in the strategic development in that local site. There is a sense of semi-permanence enough for the specialist to work within the parameters of their ‘placement’, yet still remain attached to the network or ‘centre’ (should there be one), thus remaining connected to other activities and developments.

So why covert specialists? What is at stake here? A specialist is usually part of a special interest network or collective (that validates their ‘specialty’), and can communicate changes and developments in their area of specialty more broadly too. When I say specialty I don’t necessarily mean expertise, rather, I mean a focused area of interest, where one is motivated to delve deeply into that area to uncover more and learn a great deal. When a specialist is ‘coveted’, there is limited opportunity to share one’s learning and growth with others who understand that specialty in similar ways. Also, the propensity to ‘on-sell’ those experiences is of benefit only to that locale, not necessarily to the ‘greater good’ (or the other areas of an organisation, pragmatically speaking).

It is important, from a specialist’s point of view, that one is able to carry ideas, learning and innovations from one site to the next; thus, sharing corporate knowledge and supporting long-term growth, shaped by the diversity of their practice. Specialists then also have the freedom to engage with others in their field of interest on broader matters, keeping the lines of communication open for emerging knowledge, ideas and approaches.

I return to the emergent design thoughts I’ve raised here before. Practice enables understanding. Focused practice develops specialised skills and knowledges. Specialisation returns to practice to benefit others, growing the broader schemata. Thus, research and development fuses with practice-led innovations for the benefit of all, rather than applied as a play-thing for the few to meet immediate (often ill-defined) needs.

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Education revolution: a battle between terminology and rhetoric

Under Labor’s plan, schools will be able to pool capital grants to form School Trade Precincts to provide concentrated state of the art facilities to teach kids in a variety of disciplines. School Trade Precincts will also be capable of bringing together a critical mass of expertise to focus on areas that are important to the State’s economy such as mining related occupations, service and automotive industries. Priority will be given to these projects when a group of schools has consulted with industry and where a precinct includes facilities aimed at addressing an area of skills shortage. In Western Australia there are shortages in the construction, transport, hospitality industries as well as the mining and resources sectors.

Australian Labor Party: Federal Labor’s $284 Million For West Australian Trades Training Centres In Schools Plan

Huh? I’m confused, and I’m sure it’s not just because it’s Friday! If anyone, ANY one can tell me that this picture – painted by Australian Labour’s Kevin Rudd – is wildly different from our current TAFE system, I’ll eat the proverbial!

Seriously, tell me where the “education revolution” is? I think Rudd and his shadow ministers are battling with their terminology around the notion of a revolution. Here’s some definitions:

Now, I can see how things might be a little confusing, don’t you? Let’s see, revolution as a violent and radical change to a society; revolution as a circular or circulating motion; an orbit; cycle; recurring period of time . . . geez I feel like I sound like a stuck record!!

Come on Mr Rudd, is that the best manifestation of a “revolution” you can do? Let’s add re-inventing the wheel too while we’re at it!

How about making an outright commitment to our well-trained, over-worked and under-valued TAFE teachers and fueling the flame for debate in support of your existing, internationally recognised national education and training system, rather than fluttering around like a candle in the wind.

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