[[CCK11]]: Machine Knowledge

This is a dialog that happened on our FaceBook CCK11 group:

  • Katy: Maybe I am looking at PLNs a different way, as a newcomer to the idea – I think that a PLN is mostly people. People who make up the network, whose expertise or viewpoint or experience “rubs off on you” as you interact and connect and communicate with them. Yes, some nodes are one-way (as with a website that shows a presentation from an expert) but most nodes are two-way, like colleague who points you toward the site with the presentation and who you get into discussion with about the presentation and whose other friend disagrees with the expert and gets into the discussion.
  • Me: ‎@Kate: you are right, but not in the CCK11 context. In connectivism, knowledge resides with people as well as machines… so, we cannot limit it to people only! Unorthodox, I know!
  • Katy: ‎@Anas: So the site where the expert’s presentation is housed is part of the PLN as well as the expert and the friend who tells you about the site? That makes sense. But it’s not just the sites – a collection of site bookmarks on someone’s computer doesn’t tell you about the connections between them and -more importantly- how the human people in that person’s PLN have made sense of the sites and connections between the sites and the people and the problems needing to be solved.
  • Me: @Katy: like you, I am still trying to make peace with this concept. This is what Connectivism advocates, not me, at least not yet 🙂 Machines as machines contribute to the knowledge. The closest example is Google: the information generated by google is collected, collated and compiled by some creepy entities (called bots or spiders) that sniff the whole world wide web and present them to us in a format we understand. Some of this information is created by other bots! Similarly Wikipedia, bots contribute to the creation of its articles. So, the machine started to contribute to our knowledge, not people only… creepy. Right?
  • Katy: @Anas – maybe by the end of the course I will see more eye-to-eye with Connectivism on this idea! Machines contributing to the knowledge is easier for me to deal with than the idea of machines ‘creating’ the knowledge = information is not the same as knowledge, is it>?
  • Jaap: @Katy What do you think of this example? a machine can make a diagram of your contacts in Linkedin, this machine creates information/knowledge that was not there before.
  • Me: @Katy: mhmm… Good point. To me, information is different from knowledge. Information is public, while knowledge is personal. The moment I communicate my knowledge to you, it becomes information to you. How you interpret it becomes your knowledge. We might end up having different knowledge although we “consumed” the same information. At this end, I should agree with you: machine creates “information” and we create our “knowledge”. This makes me think: does the machine has its own “knowledge”? Can we call it knowledge? I like this mooc thing. Thank you for drifting my attention to a real issue.
  • Katy: @Jaap- yes, the machine creates patterns from information. Those patterns, that new information can open our eyes to new possibilities. But I don’t think that we can equate information with knowledge @Anas- good point about ‘consuming’ the same information, yet generation different knowledge. We all have different backgrounds, experiences, prior information that cause us each to process the connections between information bits differently= each of us make unique knowledge of the world. And the different, unique knowledge is what our PLNs are exploring, right? If we just wanted to hear the same opinions and information over and over again, we’d go to a faculty meeting or a family reunion (joke) instead of investing time in cultivating a PLN to broaden and deepen our knowledge.

The Question is: if Knowledge is personalized information, can we use the term “machine knowledge”? Consequently, can we say the distributed knowledge may reside in machines as well?

Check the group for complete transcript and context.

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[[CCK11]] – Machines and knowledge

This is a dailog that happened on our FaceBook CCK11 group:

Katy: Maybe I am looking at PLNs a different way, as a newcomer to the idea – I think that a PLN is mostly people. People who make up the network, whose expertise or viewpoint or experience “rubs off on you” as you interact and connect and communicate with them. Yes, some nodes are one-way (as with a website that shows a presentation from an expert) but most nodes are two-way, like colleague who points you toward the site with the presentation and who you get into discussion with about the presentation and whose other friend disagrees with the expert and gets into the discussion.
Me: ‎@Kate: you are right, but not in the CCK11 context. In connectivism, knowledge resides with people as well as machines… so, we cannot limit it to people only! Unorthodox, I know!

Katy: ‎@Anas: So the site where the expert’s presentation is housed is part of the PLN as well as the expert and the friend who tells you about the site? That makes sense. But it’s not just the sites – a collection of site bookmarks on someone’s computer doesn’t tell you about the connections between them and -more importantly- how the human people in that person’s PLN have made sense of the sites and connections between the sites and the people and the problems needing to be solved.

Me: @Katy: like you, I am still trying to make peace with this concept. This is what Connectivism advocates, not me, at least not yet 🙂 Machines as machines contribute to the knowledge. The closest example is Google: the information generated by google is collected, collated and compiled by some creepy entities (called bots or spiders) that sniff the whole world wide web and present them to us in a format we understand. Some of this information is created by other bots! Similarly Wikipedia, bots contribute to the creation of its articles. So, the machine started to contribute to our knowledge, not people only… creepy. Right?

Katy: @Anas – maybe by the end of the course I will see more eye-to-eye with Connectivism on this idea! Machines contributing to the knowledge is easier for me to deal with than the idea of machines ‘creating’ the knowledge = information is not the same as knowledge, is it>?

Jaap: @Katy What do you think of this example? a machine can make a diagram of your contacts in Linkedin, this machine creates information/knowledge that was not there before.

Me: @Katy: mhmm… Good point. To me, information is different from knowledge. Information is public, while knowledge is personal. The moment I communicate my knowledge to you, it becomes information to you. How you interpret it becomes your knowledge. We might end up having different knowledge although we “consumed” the same information. At this end, I should agree with you: machine creates “information” and we create our “knowledge”. This makes me think: does the machine has its own “knowledge”? Can we call it knowledge? I like this mooc thing. Thank you for drifting my attention to a real issue.

Katy: @Jaap- yes, the machine creates patterns from information. Those patterns, that new information can open our eyes to new possibilities. But I don’t think that we can equate information with knowledge @Anas- good point about ‘consuming’ the same information, yet generation different knowledge. We all have different backgrounds, experiences, prior information that cause us each to process the connections between information bits differently= each of us make unique knowledge of the world. And the different, unique knowledge is what our PLNs are exploring, right? If we just wanted to hear the same opinions and information over and over again, we’d go to a faculty meeting or a family reunion (joke) instead of investing time in cultivating a PLN to broaden and deepen our knowledge.

The Question is: if Knowledge is personalized information, can we use the term “machine knowledge”? Consequently, can we say the distributed knowledge may reside in machines as well?

[Check the group for complete transcript and context.]

[CCK11] A scholar in Connectivism

Below is a summary of my contribution to the question “What makes you a scholar in digital environments” posted on Facebook CCK11 group (join the group):

A digital scholar is yet to be defined. Traditionally, scholars are those who received formal education, recognized by a group of scholars and, to some degree, “retain the knowledge in their brain”. I advocate to leave the term “scholar” …to the traditional school system and device a new descriptor for the digital arena. I suggest something like “connected”.

Don’t forget, in connectivism, you will not retain the knowledge yourself, but you master the skill to mine for it when needed.

then I added:

Google “invisible college” which is the precursor to “scholarship”. You will discover that connectivity for the sake of creation of knowledge outside academia is very old and is still popular till today. Even between distant individuals. Technology just made it instantaneous and more accessible to the layperson.

Just thought to share. Any reactions?

Information Explosion, CCK11

I have just finished the second Webinar about CCK11… and just discovered that I have to change the ways I do things… integrally.

In the last years, I had 4 main emails I manage periodically, subscribed to few interesting list services and social media. I have created an environment to manage the overflow of information I face everyday. I was successful on tracking the daily changes on FaceBook, the few hundred emails I get everyday, the twitts, RSS, summaries I get and had enough time to contribute to them and to Wikipedia. I was happy and well informed and evolving at a comfortable way.

With the CCK11 course, my exposure to knowledge has already multiplied by 10… and I did not start interacting yet… I think once I start “artifacting”, or as the mooc video suggest: network, my daily intake of information will multiply unimaginably.

My old way of interacting with the information will not work. I need a new way. I hope I can figure out something soon to make good use of this experience… I will post it here once I know.

But hey, this is evolution.

One second: could this be considered my “artificat”? Is my topic “How to survive (manage) the overflow of information that connectivism create”? Maybe! Let me digest this mooc concept first before I commit. Reading time.

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About me

My introduction for the CCK11 course. A brief blurb about me.

My Name: Anas Eljamal. In the cyber world, I am known as Aboluay.

My Location: I live in the cold Fort McMurray, Northern Alberta where Oil Sand fields makes it a boom town, with all the good and the bad.

My Job: I work at Keyano College as Director of Learning Innovation and my objectives for this year is introduce measures and standards of excellence that promotes effective learning methodologies.

My Family: I am married to Sana and have one son, Luay, who is touring Europe now.

My Present Courses: I am presently enrolled in Mobile Learning course with University of Manitoba and the EdD with University of Liverpool.

My Passion: Be a catalyst for the people around me to grow professionally and personally. Defy the obvious to understand reality. Develop my inner peace so that I believe in what everyone else believes in.

My present hobby: contribute to Wikipedia in English, Simple English and Arabic (so far, I contributed with more that 15,000 edits and initiated 1300 topics).

My Contact Details:

FaceBook: Anas Eljamal (add me to your list of friends)
Skype and MSN and Wikiepdia: Aboluay
Blog: aboluay.eljamal.com

Disclaimer: this is me as of NOW (17 June 2011, 9 am, Mountain Time). I reserve the right to change myself whenever I find a better belief.

، وحتى الآن (19 يناير 2011 ، 09:00 ، التوقيت الجبلي).
 

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هو “العالم في المدينة اليوم. فالى من تيمبي ،
 

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Oops… we did an adventure

We always plan a “sunny” trip in December and March to run from the harsh snowy winter of Fort McMurray. Our December trip was supposed to be a beach relaxing trip in Cancun. While my son’s trip would be a real adventure touring Europe with a friend for6 months. Our trip turned out to be more adventure than we really expected!

CBC TV ArticleFirst, Air Canada did its part. Our flight that was supposed to leave Fort Mac to Calgary at 5 got delayed till 9:45. We were told we should report to the airport at 9:30. When we did, they told us the flight already left. Waiting for the next available flight means missing the Cancun flight which is around 9 hours away. As a family, we decided to drive to Calgary. On Highway 63, otherwise known as Alberta Deadliest Highway It was 10 pm. The temperature was -25C. The 700 Km road we are supposed to cross are filled with snow. Only foolish people would do that. They were right… we have not encountered anyone else on the road. Not a single car! We decided to continue. My wife trying to contact our 24/7 tour agent with no avail. My son used his tech wits to see if we can book flights from Edmonton to Calgary and save 300 km from the trip. Nothing materialized. We decided to enjoy the trip.

The first obstacle was I got a sever stomach aches. No stops on the way for the first 300 Km. I had to supress it. We couldn’t find any open petrol station around the airport to fill gas. We had to go back to town and fill it in Fort Mac. With a cup of coffee, my son iPad and his entertaining company. I enjoyed the best trip I ever had with him… although I had to drive at a speed of 30km/hr for more than 50Km because of the heavy fog. My wife slept in the back seat, and my son on my side. He was great copilot! Without him, I would not be able to make it. He was a great DJ. Putting the right songs through his iPod to the car stereo. And opening interesting topics to keep me awake. He offered to drive and I was hoping to switch with him once we reached Edmonton. But his eyes dozed off on Hendey Avenue. I did not wanted to wake him up, although I was a bit too tired!

Later I discovered that what we have done is rarely done by anyone else… ever! We twitted and facebooked our progress through my BB to ensure that our friends are tracking our trip. Fida and Amen in Calgary were keeping an eye on our progress. Our family were on the stand by if they needed to interfere… but everything went well.

I switched driving the car with my Wife at Red Deer (200 km away from destination) around  5 am. I slept in the back seat for the last 2 hours of the trip. We got to the airport 2 hours before our Cancun flight. We checked my son in the airport hotel (for his flight to London was in the afternoon) and we rushed to the airport becuase we were worried that if we slept for few minutes, we will never wake up to catch our flight.

I slept 3 hours on the plane to Cancun. Total sleeping time in the last 32 hours were 5 hours only!

The start of a planned relaxing trip turned out to be an unplanned adventure We did not recognize the adventure until we shared it with our friends and we were desribed as fools and crazy and that no one would do such a trip at night  in December!…

The last leg of our trip was even more adventure than expected. But this is another blog!

Adaptive Cruise Control

Lincoln MKX 2011Due to an adventure that I might explain in another post, I experienced Adaptive Cruise Control in a refreshing way.

My wife and I were forced to drive separate cars for more than 700 Km in a very bad winter weather. She drove Luay’s Ford Focus while I drove my brand new 2011 MKX (showing off!) from Calgary to Fort McMurray during the worst weather conditions Alberta has seen. We were able to get home in 16 hours for a trip that usually takes 8 hours. However, my wife drove for both of us.

I drove the MKX because I do not fit in my son’s car. She drove in front of me to keep an eye on her for the Focus is not reliable to drive in the bad weather. So I set my cruise control on 120km/hr (yes, on the Lincol, you can specify the cruise speed digitally) then enabled the adaptive cruise control (that is, you tell the car to follow the speed of the car in front of yours.) In this way, my car followed the speed of my wife’s car for the whole trip. I mean all I had to do is steer it… no decisions what so ever about breaking or accelerating… my left foot enjoyed the whole trip… the first time it drove 700 km without feeling tired!

An amazing experience! I am looking forward for the day that the car will do its own steering… Would it happen in my days?

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Why I chose Aboluay

In my parents’ culture, it is customary to change a person’s name after the birth of the first boy. A father will add “abo” to the name of his first born son, while the mother adds “Um”. My first born (and only) son is Luay. So, I become Aboluay. My wife is Umluay!

I have rejected many of my ancestors’ traditions and myths. I kept few of them that suited me. This is one of them. Think about it, your name is one of the few things you own that you never choose. With this nice traditional trick, you have a chance to rename your self to a name you choose. Although I like my original name, Anas (which is the name of Adam’s grandson, Anosh), but many of my western acquaintances mispronounce it. So, Aboluay, is a convenient solutions!

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Connectivism

This is the first post I do on the topic. Mainly to check if my new layout works and how it behaves. But the other reason is to set my starting point to see the learning I will gather during this experience.

My first understanding about the connectivism (as og 1:50 pm on 12 January 2010) is that following:

(1) It is a theory the complement traditional pedagogical theories (Behaviourism, Cognitive and Constructivism).

(2) It ensures that learning extends beyond traditional methods to include the use of the new Internet explosion of knowledge.

(3) There has been some criticism that this is not a new theory but an application to previous theories.

Beyond that, my knowledge is very limited. Let’s see how my knowledge will evolve during this course.

The mark has been set! 🙂

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Wikipedia revisited

After almost one year of quitting wikipedia editing, I returned with two projects I had on mind: creating a portal for Canada and another one for Education. Not just create the portal but write relevant articles to enrich the Arabic version. I completed the Canada Portal which got the “excellent article” tag. To achieve this, I had to write more than 100 related article. The education portal is in the same route. The wealth of knowledge and insight I developed myself is massive.

In the process, as usual, I evolved. I learned to aim at creating neutral and unbiased avoiding being influenced by opinionated individuals. I became a neutral person in the world of opinionated and biased world. It is refreshing to stand to become a bystander in the middle of useless and wasted argumentative world.

Updated PLE (Dec 2010)

I have chosen to divide my third attempt on my PLE into 3 branches:

(1) My Learning: Sites or Internet Activities that helps me learn. It is part of my lifelong learning activities. You may call this branch: lifelong learning.

(2) Future Learning: The activities I would like to learn in the next 3-6 months.

(3) Trouble Shooting, or what I like to describe as Knowledge-On-Demand. In general, this type of activities does not require me “to learn” as such, but it is essential for my day to day operation.

Details

(1) “My Learning” branch

I recognize the I have 3 levels of learning: the cognitive (i.e. the information I have to retain), Behavioral (i.e. learning that changes my habits and behavior) and Paradigm Shift (i.e learning that changes my values). In my PLE, I havr outlined SOME of the web sites that helps me in each level. For example, playing SIMS helped me (and helps me) analyze daily routines and social interaction that, after playing for a while, help me develop new habits or behavior. As you may have noticed, my life is filled with online cognitive opportunities. This is the real purpose of the internet. Isn’t it?

(2) “My Future Learning” branch

In the next 6 months, I need to learn about mLearning (=Learning using the mobile devices), developing audio-visual materian for online courses (this course gave the push for it) and about Avatars and 2nd Life (my next online course).

(3) Troubleshooting branch

In my life, I face a lot of problems that I need to solve immediately. Due to the nature of my field, most of this knowledge is obsolete and worth learning (eg: programming languages… the moment you learn it, it become obsolete, so spend time learning languages is a life killer.) so, I revert to online friends or resources to find solutions either by searching previous cases, or asking in forums. This is what I like to call Knowledge on Demand.

The PLE (Bubbl.us disabled embedding their chart, so I replaced it with a static image.)

Anas PLN Jan 2011

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PLE… or Personal Learning Environment

I was requested to ponder on my PLE… I have had a post earlier on the topic, although it was called PLN, back then (that is less than a year ago)…

PLE is the environment I use to convert information to knowledge… thus learn. I notice that my PLE has evolved tremendously, from being book based, to eBook based, to Google bases (i.e. random research) to more eCommunity based. When I reflect on how I evolved in the last 5 years, I am amazed. The evolution was smooth.

5 Years ago, I used to read a paper book everyday. I had a shelved room that kept my books. 4 Years ago, when I moved to a new house, I packed all my books tenderly in neat boxes so they should be shelved in a new book stacks in the new house. For the first time… I did not open my boxes. They are still stored in the Garage… I did not feel the need to have them… because I was able to get all of them from the Internet… I noticed I haven’s read a book for a long time… I mean a paper book… however, I read tonnes of articles, novels, researches off the Internet directly… Is it because my reading habit evolved or because my eye sight got worse (since you can increase the font on the screen?) God knows (I asked an optometrist and he did not give me a good answer!)

This assignment made me ponder more: when I am reading tonnes of information over the internet, what environment make me really learn, in a sense the activity that influences behavioral or paradigm change in me! It was an eye opener soul search… and here are the list of environments that really influence change in me:

(1) I have experienced the highest paradigm shifts when I interact in a virtual world with real people… SecondLife had the most impact. My learning through it was phenomenal. Learning about myself. It is still my favorite learning network.

(2) Virtual Games still impact me. Internet Spades still makes me discover weaknesses in thinking strategies. Epic Games forces me to discover new thinking realms in my brain.

(3) Wikipedia comes third. It had a massive impact on my value sets. It still does changes me constantly. It made me shift from “competitive” mindset to “collaborative”. Wikipedia plays two roles: it constantly challenges me to push my collaboration to the limit. At the same time, offers me wealth of information (not knowledge) that I find useful. For example, my recent involvement in the HealthSpeaks, made me appreciate collaboration for the sake of charity, while it offered me the chance to learn in depth about medical concepts that were alien to me.

The above 3 are true learning experiences. Still, there are few other Internet based PLE’s that I use to gain information or I can tap on when I am in trouble. It is a group of virtual individual who jump to my help when I scream… for example, FaceBook has been an excellent medium for my travel… better than TripAdvisor or Expedia. My Facebook friends offered me valuable advices that made my travels an enjoyable adventures. On the Education side, I rely heavily on POD, Educause, CIDER and CANITDIRS beside few other.

Recently, I started jotting my PLE’s on map mapping tools like Bubbl.us. Check out my latest PLE:

Noosphere

I just got involved in translating Wikipedia articles about the concept of “Noosphere”… I was fascinated to discover that there were people in the early 20th century were prophetically predicting  about the internet… Amazing.

Noospher, according to these prophets, is the 3rd cycle of the evolution of Earth. The first phase was the “Geosphere”, that is the creation of the physical earth. The second phase is the “biosphere” which is the phase were the physical earth evolved to create living forms. The next phase is the Noosphere when the living form evolves to the level of creating awareness. Awareness being the collective concept of knowledge and consciousness.

The first prophet of the concept was Vernadsky who in the 1920’s introduced this concept building on Darwin theory of the survival of the fittest.

The came De Chardin who elaborated the concept and tried to explain it theologically through his Omega Point theory. Obviously, his theory died when the church opposed it although he did his best to show that the Omega Point is the personification of Jesus.

Both ideas suggests that the next level of the evolution of Earth is to create a global awareness… which is the collectiveness and interrelationship of global knowledge!

Isn’t this what the Internet is all about? Interesting concept that requires further contemplation.

Horses, Oxen and Education

This excerpt was a rely to one of my colleagues who shed some doubt about the effectiveness of online courses in regulated courses:

Doug: This is so very true. We have a dilemma. Trying to use the wrong tools for the solution. It is the curse of living at the verge of change.

This reminds me of an Australian movie about something that happened in 1920’s. The scene shows a farmer who owns a lot of horses and oxen that he use to plow and harvest his field. His young son, who just graduated, came back to the farm driving one of those newly invented cars. He told his father that this machine is the future and it will replace the animals in the field work. His father rode on a horse and told him “show me”. Obviously, the horse was much faster running on the field terrain and the car got stuck in the mud after few yards. The father sat triumphantly on his rocking chair and cynically asked his son: “It will never replace my animals. How do you feed hay to this machine?”
Obviously the car was the wrong tool for the period. Few years down the load, the car evolved into a tractor and replaced the animals and changing the farming industry and proved Malthus wrong. The son was right, but the father did not see at the time.
We are in a similar situation. Online courses and technology are not the solution for everything yet. We still have to use the horses until online courses and education evolves to become suitable. Until then, we have to use the “cars” where they are applicable. Like driving from the city to the farm and not more.

One step further: Type of Learning Activities

While driving today, I got some refinement to the idea I presented earlier. This came as a result of some discussion with Ann about her Program Concept restructure. My new idea relates to Blooms Taxonomy. Traditional learning program structure suggests that programs should have objectives. Courses should have a set of objectives that align with the program objectives. The course objectives should use the right frame: an action verb, a quantifiable criteria and an environmental condition. Google Bloom for more details.

My idea builds up on this concept and suggests assigning to each course objective an activity type that comes from one or more of these categorizes:

1. Behavior: is an activity that involves a behavior change based on the instructor’s value set. Examples: soldiers in an army, medical interns, religious followers, wiki users.
2. Experience: is an activity that enhances the knowledge and or skills of the person. Example: learning Math formulas, laws of physics, Social Studies facts, Wiki tools and rules.
3. Creation: is an activity that encourages a student to create their own knowledge. It is experiential activities that creates personal knowledge. Examples: (TBC)
4. Networking: is an activity that that encourages students to create preset knowledge based on group interaction. Examples: brainstorming.
5. Bohemic: is a free form networking activity that allows the group interaction to create new knowledge which does not conform to a predetermined structure.

These are progressive activities. Carrying any higher activity embeds activities from the lowers ones. For example, creation activity includes behavior and and Experience activities.

As you can tell, the terminology have evolved from the previous post. I assume it will continue to evolve as the idea matures.

The next 2 steps:
(1) Create a set of action verb that could be used for each category and a set of classroom and online activities that could be used with each type.
(2) Relate the action verb and sample activities to online courses.

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Detect language » Arabic

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New Idea: How to determine if a course is onlineable?

I was preparing for a workshop about online training. The audience were teachers who never created an online material. I was wondering how can I tell them that not all courses could be converted to online courses. Then, an epiphany came. It is simple and based on known theories. But its uses are limitless.

The idea is to classify every course objectives into one or more of the following:
1- Behavior: if the objective encourages behavioral change.
2- Information: if the objective focuses on acquiring information.
3- Constructive: if the objective entices the learner to create their own knowledge.
4- Networking: if the objective aims at building knowledge through communicating with others.
5- Rhizomatic: if the activity is …

oops… my son is calling be to drop him at work… I will continue later…