Reading List #8

Amazingly this might be the quickest follow-up to my reading list! Lucky number 8. As always a collection of great ideas and topics. I’ve also included a few videos for those that don’t do reading 🙂


Universities are not Innovation Bootcamps

A really great piece with a number of poignant points worth quoting.

Universities are being managed more and more in a mechanistic, Taylorist manner which is the exact antithesis of how a knowledge organisation should be managed.

I totally agree with this! The managerial structure we currently operate with is far too disconnected and siloed.

Being innovative involves risks. Most university managers are enormously risk averse and so innovation is stifled at birth or filtered through layers of committees until the downside of any risk is spread thin.

Another really important point – there is little personality built into the innovation process. Knowledge, skill, insight and personality are stripped away in favour of a vanilla risk free committee sanitised product. There is no space to play and no concept that risk is often good when it is balance with reward.

Entrepreneurs are risk takers and relish ambiguity and control of their own environment while innovators tend to add to those willingness to change and a restless curiosity. While there is overlap there is also distinction.

We tend to like entrepeneurs because they fit an easy definition, but the motivations of the innovator is far more complex.

There are also some interesting point about reward skills and activities students take outside the curriculum – in areas such as personal development and extracurricular cognitive skills. Rewarding students for social involvement and links to their community – perhaps through volunteering, showing leadership qualities via sport or mentoring. There is something to the idea that we should be developing citizens not just graduates.

Don’t You Dare Say “Disruptive”

Great article and great to see Orwell’s wisdom – “stale phrases mechanically repeated have dangerous political effects” – so apt! It was interesting to also read about the actual results of disruptive acts in education I think this quote used in the post really hit the nail on the head:

The disruption was expected to produce innovation, more typically, it produced turmoil and demoralization.

As I’ve said before I don’t believe education is fundamentally broken – and because of this disruption is the last thing that you should you be doing. What education needs is investment to improve, to grow and to nurture – not add more tech and certainly not undermine its basic modes of operation. If the school system was broken why does it work in Scandinavia? It’s because it’s different – its been policy to improve and flourished because of decades of investment.

Innovations in and around Governments

This is a fantastic video of the presentation Geoff Mulgan gave at Ci 2012 which was replayed on Big Ideas on Radio National. I actually listened to this during a recent car ride and then watched the video. I’ve got some notes from the talk up on my Live Notes blog, but here are a couple of the highlights.

There is something to be said that governance is something that is done to and for us – but it is a concept that is changing and instead be done with us.

There were a few interesting examples of innovation in government:

  • ePetition site in the UK
  • Iceland’s crowd sourced constitution (done through clouds – representatives + social media dialogue)
  • Finland’s open Ministry – beyond the petition and developing more engaged dialogue
  • Participatory budgeting – small pots of discretionary spending.

There were a couple of ‘models’ of innovation:
Specialised Innovation which is something done by experts e.g. Bell Labs, Pharma labs model
Open Innovation whic is done with people, socially, user driven, dispersed, beyond experts and with the public.

Innovation is beginning to move away from being done to and of – and coming to be done with.

A couple of ideas to improve and enable innovation

  • Inducement prizes: can you come up with something better. Challenges – can you?
  • Crowd sourcing – posting problems – we don’t have the monopoly of wisdom, how do we
  • Accelerator Programs – entrepreneur taking it beyond the constraints of venture capital
  • Maker Programs – making, building, creating – getting it done from the ground up. By making the digital world you transform the relationship with it.

Loved this! – Innovation is about saying goodbye to things as much as generating and creating new things. This is the hardest part of innovation – making space for the new.


Corporate open source: Intellectual property and the struggle over value

This article articulates the concept of “corporate open source” which is something that is rife through the educational technology – in particular the top MOOC providers. Read it because open is not quite as it seems yet is the most powerful tool in the arsenal of education.

If you have an idea, sharing it with me does not reduce its utility to you but usually increases it. In fact, in order to realize their maximum productivity, ideas, images, and effects must be common and shared.

Diane Ravitch and learning technologies: Here we go again

Great read on why the edu conversation has to focus on the ed and the tech. They really are connected social components now and not something that can truly be separate nor treated as if they do not affect each other.

I have to agree with the main premise – that there needs to be more critical analysis of technology but that it does not therefore imply that technology is bad. My most successful article for quite a while is a critique of The EdTech Revolution – According to Pearson and I think it’s mainly because I can stand back and call bullshit. Not to the premise of technology being useful to transform education – but rather what is being developed and marketed doesn’t actually address any of the underlying issues.

Millennials Will Soon Rule The World: But How Will They Lead?

While the article focuses on Millenials – I can see more of a link to what I would call knowledge organisations in general. In education for example you can see many of the ideas about work already informally – just not in how we are paid, promoted & supported!

A corporate lattice, not a ladder

is a really beautiful image.

Content or experience

Interesting ideas here from Clare here. I totally agree that “if we focus on content, it becomes too easy to think that content presentation is equivalent to learning”. There’s also a lot to unpack in this:

Technologically, it makes sense to talk about content management systems, but learning management systems above that is the wrong language. While ‘course management systems’ addresses the real function of such systems, ideally we’d instead be thinking about ‘experience management systems’.

This concept of learning as an experience really holds true to me (experience being a cognitive process) and that is where our efforts need to be. I just wonder if our focus needs to be on ‘managing’ them at the moment or actually developing them in a meaningful and authentic way. I’ve also commented on Clark’s post.

Save the Badger

OK the running joke at the Blackboard conference had to do with Badgers. Badgers being derived from the topic of open badgers which is included in keynotes at almost every edtech conference. To accompany that riff was the ubiquitous Badgers, Badgers, Badgers video – which has now been updated as part of a protest to the badger cull going on in the UK. It’s bought together the original song, flying V guitars, Brian May and Brian Blessed – and while I don’t understand the issues to the protest I can appreciate what they have given to (or should that be unleashed on?) the world!

Education is broken, somebody should do something

Fantastic article on the current discourse around education and technology. Really insightful and packed full of some really great links for further reading. Personally I love seeing Audrey Watters and Henry Giroux getting quoted as I think they’re voices that are important because the challenge the official line, the hype and the PR that inevitably sells knowledge back to knowledge organisations.


Extracting Editable 3D Objects from a Single Photo

AMAZING! Creating 3D models from 2D images.

APIs are delivering on their promise

Definitely at the other end of the scale in terms of the cool factor! APIs are all about the fundamental plumbing that drives (and will increasingly drive) the future of the web across the browser, apps and devices. My only concern with all this – APIs are clunky. While they allow content and data to be shared, pulled and pushed they require an experienced translator to enact upon them. At the moment this is the realm of an elite developer class (most people call them “code monkeys – I have a little more respect). What I imagine the next stage required to be is the development of a democratised interface that allows any user to begin to combine data & logic with a variety of transactions (something similar to IFTTT but more powerful and less siloed). Think about the ability to make apps that suit you and your needs with no code to write. I believe the next big thing in the web will be the ability to create a customisable experience. While many point to Web 3.0 being semantic in nature, I believe that this will also be something that can be made and constructed to suit the individual – and built using APIs (or maybe the next generation of the technology).

Giving the Finger

A number of biometric technology features came out this week. Those who purchase the new iPhone 5S will be able to use a fingerprint to access a phone or buy something on iTunes and there are a range of other companies developing technology that uses your biological information for security and industrial paranoia abatement. It is a worrying trend because I don’t think that all the consequences have been though through. I understand the convenience of many of these – but given the NSAs recent activities I am a little more concerned over what information I am willing to hand over for the sake of simplicity.

For those of us who have been part of the evolution of the web this is increasingly insightful:

The last decade was about sharing. The next decade will be about protecting.


The contradictions of capital

This is a video of a talk by Professor David Harvey which refers back to the work of Marx and places it in a modern context. While not for everyone I found the ideas extremely interesting and one of those that asks a lot of questions around the issues that we face. Central to our current economic issues are the divergence of “use value” and “exchange value” and the accumulation of “money” and therefore wealth. I think in general this gave labels to a number of ideas I have been thinking – and a prompt to go and read Marx to see what else is there. Maybe refer to Harvey’s Companion Guides too.

Bringing back gratitude to a secular world

Reminds me a bit of this from Alain de Botton – Can atheists learn From religion?

Three simple keys to living gratefully:

  1. Stop – build in ‘stop signs’ in your busy day, whether it’s an app on your computer that rings a mindfulness bell, or remembering to keep your eyes closed a second longer in the morning to bring your awareness to the gift of sight.
  2. Look – once you stop you can see what this moment is the opportunity for. Open your senses to discover the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and textures of all that surrounds you.
  3. Go – doing something with the opportunity life provides.



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