I attended George Siemens’ presentation at the 2007 Distributed Learning Syposium.

Following are my notes from the session (click here for the slides).

Siemens differentiated between “quick and dirty” knowledge and deep understanding, and the tools that are relevant for each. Tools are able to change us, are pre-conditioned for action, and it is up to us to use them appropriately. We must present them for our students appropriately. Deep understanding only comes with reflection, conversation with others, and an opportunity to present one’s learning.
Tools have opened access, distributed control, raised noise, and provided immediacy. Siemens talked about the symmetry of effect, meaning that
Content is not understanding.
Siemens referenced two authors: Granovetter discusses weak and strong ties. We maintain strong ties with those who are most like us. Gibson’s affordances reference that tools have action potential and preconditions for activity. An agent and an object interact and affordance is a property of this interaction.
Siemens concludes that the nature of ties is an affordance of the medium (think of the object, the actor, and the activity). A parent and a child that need to quickly share information might use IM. Colleagues that want to share information for discussion might use email.
Great quote from Neil Postman: “A new medium does not add something; it changes everything.” [citation needed – can anyone help?]
Siemens says that understanding requires time, depth, and sustained attention. The social networking tools support immediacy, short bursts and “quick and dirty” knowledge. Wikipedia is useful to get an overview, a definition, a link to more detail.
But for today’s youth, we must exist in their spaces if we are to engage them.
Siemens makes a call to action to change everything about our education structures – we must change toward understanding.