Monday, October 15, 2007

The Web 2.0 ecosystem

A deep forest

A deep forest with no limits. Feeding the world with its oxygen and beauty. Mysterious, attractive, diverse, fragile, sometimes dangerous. That’s what the web is like. Populated with a billion of users, with languages difficult to understand, curious values and obcure agendas. How fascinating !
Many will cautiously approach the web by picking up a leaf and inspecting it closer. Maybe the first leaf will be a youtube video link sent by a friend. Then, they will grab a leaf from another tree and this one will be a collection of images of their grand-children. Another leaf might be a Wikipedia page found thanks to Google. And little by little, the visitor will learn which trees he prefers. Some will start an account on myspace, others will become wikipedians, yet others will find fullfillment in creating a blog, this one will create his personal file on LinkedIn, and that one will buy land in SecondLife, and yet that other one will have fun with Twitter. The choices are numerous and more are to come.

After a while, the user will look beyond the leaves and the trees and will start considering the forest itself and perhaps discover an entire ecosystem, the circle of the participatory Web.

Users collaboratively create content on wikis. They get informed of what is created thanks to RSS feeds. Blogs enable users to react to content created by others, further creating content. Social bookmarking will make it possible for users to share with others what they are reading, and to learn about what others are reading. Social networking will enable users to discover more about the other users. The circle is closed.

Upon starting to look at the forest with this fresh eye, the user may start to see what is missing. Improved search capabilities certainly, which will be either through creation of more communities of practices, or better categorization and semantic search. Also, whilst the circle of text-based internet is pretty much complete today, it is not the case of the media-rich internet. Searching images is still not working very well. Collaborative editing of videos is still in infancy. Does an audio-based RSS system exist ? Could podcasts be automatically translated in dozen of languages ?

These issues are not what I am going to talk about tomorrow, but I think these points are worth keeping in mind. Simply, there was no tag to qualify a few thoughts I had whilst listening to talks this morning :-)

Tomorrow, I will more specifically focus on wikis and how they can help in the educational process. I’ll try to identify some trends and some of the Web 2.0 issues currently unresolved or very poorly addressed, such as the questions of collective authorship, individual freedom over choice of licenses, or code of conduct in an open environment with limited technical barriers.

Plenary 1: Delivering on the Lisbon Agenda

Needs and concerns:
E-Learning was in the political agenda in 2000 but lost visibility along the years, so we have to re-invent a new Lisbon Strategy beyond proposals of 2000 and the revision in 2005;
We all recognize that Europe will not succeed in 2010 to become the most advanced and competitive economy of the world, but we have to work in that way, changing the European culture, introducing a risk and competitive awareness;
Coordination is missing on the Lisbon Strategy concerning e-Learning;
e-Learning is still too much on academic areas and on the formal education system;
We have to start to add value to the member countries and regions in Europe;
We are still dealing with the past and far away from the new challenges (self regulation, help people to think, learning to drive, etc.);
We need more linkage between Productivity and ICT possibilities;
Innovation attitudes are missing in Europe;
We need new e-learning research and concepts based on social web, orchestrating new challenges related with web teams;
Europe is still far away from the opportunities of the connected knowledge economy and the challenges of the Lisbon Agenda;
We need to improve the awareness of Europeans for the Lisbon Agenda and the social innovation proposed for individuals, enterprises and governments;
Internet introduces a new paradigm for distributed network and not only centralized or decentralized, with a direct impact on citizens. We must be proud to be Europeans;
Collaboration platforms are still missing in Europe and there is a huge gap between the fragmented market players and the social needs;
We need to improve motivation for learning not only in schools but also in enterprises and governmental agencies. – A new culture of learning is missing;
We have to live in new communities of learning.

Creation of new international networking consortiums;
Break actual learning system;
Creation of open standards;
Creation of an action plan for innovation;
Promotion of new learning contents and environments for the jobs of tomorrow, with hope and new career opportunities;
Go beyond individual and group empowerment succeeding on networks empowerment, increasing European performance and succeeding on the new Lisbon Agenda. – Power to the networks and interaction on contents;
Individuals must learn face to face in a new social web (Innoagent programme with European spin-ins);
Create new tools for people and small groups integration, linking innovation to people;
We have to move from Europe ownership of 2000 and nations ownership of 2005 to social ownership of the new Lisbon Agenda for tomorrow;
Is important to create a large European market for e-learning, with specific budgets on schools, governmental agencies and enterprises;
Creation of credits related to learning;
Creation of open platforms for e-learning, involving universities;
New broadband networks infrastructures are needed for alive collaboration and video content;
Old people is a problem but also an opportunity for e-learning in Europe;
Each one must create their own energy for a “long life learning” in a changing environment;
Each member state in Europe must create a new merit culture, with objectives, evaluation and written reports;
Improve competitiveness and aggressiveness;
Improve global and distributed learning;
Enterprises must replace paper manuals of their products for electronic tutorials and e-learning tools, improving ICT competence in society;
Local authorities must use electronic tools for community proposals, helping citizens to solve their problems and linking populations to politicians and decision makers.

Final conclusions:
Improve social web;
A new manual for 2010;
A new alive network for innovation regarding and involving all the people;
New ways, new targets to the projects;
Use massive collaboration for each specific propose;
Use clients as producers of e-manuals and digital contents;
Personalize for a network world, learning more and faster.
New accountability methods, questioning actual reports and evaluation routines;
Look for results with target users;
Use e-learning tools to solve environmental problems;
Civil society must be more evolved on e-learning initiatives and not only formal institutions.

E for energy, enthusiasm, elevated, electric ...

My role is rapporteur for the two sessions with Etienne Wenger on Informal Learning and Learning Communities.

As I get ready to leave for the conference my feet tingle with anticipation as to what it's going to be like. My own engagement in self, knowledge and the world - in other words, my learning - has always been a dance between people, tools, conversations, struggle and laughter. Is today going to be part of that dance?

At a conference on eLearning I would expect to catch a glimpse into the playfulness, imagination, and risk-taking that new technologies demand of us in order to learn. I wonder if I will. And I wonder what else I'm going to discover and who else I'm going to know ...

Bev Trayner

(My) Five questions for eLearning Lisboa 2007.

The EU eLearning Lisboa 2007 is there. With a unique set of speakers and experts from different places of the world, the conference will join over 1.000 people to share experiences during the next days.

I leave here five questions that arose to me to discuss among peers during the conference:

1. eLearning or only Learning?
eLearning is nowadays a learning process supported by technology enhanced environments. Can we miss the “e”, as the technology is embedded in all modern learning processes?

2. Will e-skills be the key-factor for the European competitiveness?
Lifelong learning is a key-factor for creating a knowledge society based on e-skills (ICT related skills). Will e-skills development promote competitiveness, employability and workforce development in Europe? Can eLearning be the best way to achieve a massive distribution of knowledge towards a more cohesive society (large spread of knowledge and increase proximity between regions)? Which role is reserved to ePortfolio as an important and standardized mechanism of archiving the skills acquired?

3. Can learning processes survive without innovation?
New organisational learning uses different methods: Classroom; Online learning; Communities and Networks; Information Repositories; Access to experts and Performance Support (ex: job aids on contact centres). eLearning 2.0 uses new mobile platforms (iPod, PDA phones) and web 2.0 applications (Second Life, My Space, Wikipedia, You Tube, Blogs and Wikis). New learning contents are simulations and games - the EDUTAINMENT concept. Are we prepared for that?

4. How can the Education and Training Systems face the challenge of the Lisbon Agenda?
The present education and training systems are not yet completely equipped to face the challenge of the Lisbon Agenda and learning innovation. The learning methods should be more learner centric and supported by ICT. Are teachers and trainers prepared for that challenge?

5. What are the role of companies and public administration in the promotion of lifelong learning?
What efforts have been devoted to promote eLearning in enterprises, in the public administration and in informal learning at large? We know organisational learning should be driven by business performance management, but who is doing performance based learning? How can we implement performance management and organisational learning at large in public administration to influence the market as an example?

Mário Figueira
Associate Partner
Novabase Consulting