Reading List #6

I hope you’ll agree this reading list is one of the best and most diverse in terms of topics and ideas. I can’t say that there is a single emerging theme here, but they all seem to form pieces of a much larger puzzle – how we live, work and learn in an increasingly digital environment.

The Expert Generalist – This is me! In terms of skills sets, knowledge, job or job description this is just me. Someone without clear or easy to define talents – other than a bit of everything. I really liked this:

This kind of person is what I call an expert generalist. Don’t confuse this with “jack-of-all-trades, master of none.” This person is highly skilled in many trades. Their knowledge and ability in any one area is only surpassed by a specialist.

My skills are across the board rather than focused on an area, and I like to think that my ability to see the forests and the trees is why I’m important to an organisation.

Goodbye Skype: why we need an Agile approach to learning technology in the Social Age – A good post that covers some of the same frustrations many of us feel with institutional systems. While we need established core technologies in institutions there is also a requirement for what Julian calls “Informal Technology”. I feel the same way and wonder if corporate IT has descended to being gatekeepers or service providers. In the age of BYOD we need a more agile view of technology.

Our organisational view of technology needs to be agile: no longer will we be procuring technology or systems to last us for five years. Instead, we will be using boutique offerings that speak to each other closely that support our performance in the moment, that make us agile. It’s the social way.

Style Manual – Not really a post or article as such, but a helpful little resource.

Down with meritocracy – A really interesting read from 2001 from the man who actually coined the word!

In Connectivism, No One Can Hear You Scream: a Guide to Understanding the MOOC Novice – Covering some really poignant elements of the current shift to online, Keith Brennan cover self-efficacy, motivation, cognitive load and prior knowledge as some of the most significant issues we face. While specifically aimed as a response to connectivist theory, I think there are some important elements that can be applied to humanising the whole online experience.

We are bundles of brains, experiences, & nervous systems sitting on the other side of a screen. This hasn’t changed.

Why Online Programs Fail, and 5 Things We Can Do About It – A really great article from by Sean Michael Morris and Jesse Stommel. There’s a lot to this advice, which is quite broad but extremely relevant. Here are the top 5 – but I suggest reading the full article to get the flesh from the bones:

  1. Stop conflating on-ground and online learning models, which require different pedagogies, administration, economies, curriculum, and communities.
  2. Rely more on pedagogues and less on tech.
  3. Stop worrying whether online learning will usurp traditional education.
  4. Let go of fears and take more risks.
  5. Hold massive “town meetings” to develop broader strategies around online learning, because so far this conversation isn’t big or inclusive enough.

Your app makes me fat – Perhaps an accompaniment to the post above, this one provides some really good advice around cognitive load and User Experience. The concept of a single Cognitive resource, that acts in a similar way to a fuel tank, really strikes a chord. My desire to be lazy at home, particularly after a challenging day at work, is an attempt to refuel – or at least coast along till I can. This post makes me ask questions around digital working and learning environments and why they seem to be so draining. In essence I think quite often we get stuck doing the dumb work which the machine takes a rest – rather than the other way around. This kind of idea then plays with the next video

Bret Victor – The Future of Programming – Once again I am astounded by Brett Victor. This talk given at the Dropbox Conference is truly inspiring. Dressed in suit and skinny tie and armed with a pocketful of pens and an overhead project he opens us up to the thinking around computers and programming form the 60s and 70s.

I honestly don’t know whats happened since, other than we became trapped in a paradigm that was driven by profits, but we haven’t seemed to have progressed as far as we should. The topic and ideas here really reflect my own position in regards to digital needing to evolve and become smarter. On another note, the concept of becoming truly open-minded was great.

We have to say to ourselves – “we don’t know what we’re doing”.

It’s only then are we free to think and do anything.

** update ** Brett has published the references and follow-up notes from the talk.

Google appears ready to ditch Android over its intellectual property issues – A really interesting piece on Google’s future with Android. I think there is something to this – the emergence of Chrome as Google’s operating system of the future. I think this summed it up nicely about Android – “rejiggered Java VM platform is an oddball product that simply doesn’t mesh with everything else the company does”

How Microsoft Lost Its Way, as Understood Through The Wire Nicely sketched out idea around what’s been going wrong at Microsoft. I’m also a fan of the Wire – so anything to tie it in and help explain the issues (rather than the tech) is a good thing.

An MVP is not a Cheaper Product, It’s about Smart Learning As a proponent of adopting the Lean approach to development work this is an excellent point. The confusion around the goal of the MVP is often quite easily confused with the process of getting to there. I think that this is a common mistake and an important reminder of the need to interrogate your work more often and ensure that it is based on the UX (which is essentially how you thrive!).

Scaling Education: The Absurd Case of the MOOC Great comment from Stephen Downes:

The approach to scale in online learning is exactly not to facilitate a common experience, but rather, to facilitate an experience each person can make their own.

Latest Parenting Trend: The CTFD Method As a new parent I think this is pretty important and probably the best advice I could pass on to anyone. Probably more applicable to work or anywhere in life that gives you stress.

Tweeps from this post:

@WVU_Scott@julianstodd@wiltwhatman@slamteacher@Jessifer@seriouspony@worrydream@DanielEran@AuerbachKeller@sgblank@Downes@thedaddycomplex

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