Tuesday, September 20

Small Pieces Loosely Joined

When talking about platforms, the opposite of a single monolothic approach (cough Windows cough) is small pieces loosely joined.

We in the learning industries seem to be good at the
  • big pieces, tightly joined (degrees, curricula, certification)
  • small pieces, tightly joined (LMS delivered content)
  • small pieces, not at all joined (Google, mapquest, bubble help)

So what is it that can/does loosely join our small pieces of learning? Is it our PC? Outlook? The database in Google Desktop Search? Our PDA? Is it our organization? Our annual review? Our interests? Company? Career? Industry?

At the end of our day, it is probably summed up in our résumé, our sometimes forced, often surprising organization of the things we have demonstratably done. But at the heart, we are our own platform, constantly both writing to others and being written upon, vastly ranging in productivity and capability.

I would say for the last few hundred years we have probably been Human 2.0. And we are getting close, I think, to v3.


Harold Jarche said...

As you know, learning is individualistic and messy, in that it cannot be completely quantified, much to the chagrin of some vendors.

Here is a reference on small pieces for learning. Personally, I'm seeing interesting stuff happening in the open source world. Moodle has an integrated wiki and will soon be integrated with ELGG. You can then pick and choose multiple applications that integrate, including proprietary systems like Marratech.

That's getting close to small pieces loosely joined, using open standards.

Godfrey Parkin said...

"So what is it that can/does loosely join our small pieces of learning? Is it our PC? Outlook? ..."

What connects all our small pieces of learning is not a technology, but our humanity.

"At the end of our day, it is probably summed up in our résumé, our sometimes forced, often surprising organization of the things we have demonstratably done."

We are not what we have done, but what we are trying to do. It's not content, or even context, but process that gets us where we are going. But of course the more granular our content is, the more maleable it becomes. Smallness is increasingly important in all dataflows, and learning is simply another kind of dataflow.

Alan said...

I'm with Godfrey, that at the core it is people, individuals doing the joining, and onkly enabled more recently by the tools that fall under the umbrella of "social software".

And as an FYI, some Canadian colleagues and I tried to answer this in June 2004 by turning a conference "presentation" on its head as "Small Technologies Loosely Joined: Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control"

and re-gurgitated again as "Decentralization of Learning Resources: Syndicating Learning Objects Using RSS, Trackback, and Related Technologies"

and we've put into action in my system:


For the technology, the real joiner is RSS.

PS- someone zap that anonymous comment spammer top of the list!

Bill Bruck said...

When I went to college, I was fortunate to have no core requirements and, since I made my own major, no pre-defined major requirements either. In fact, I had no grades. Best learning experience I ever had.

While at heart I'm definitely with Godrey, I think it's important to distinguish which domain of learning we're talking about. For lifelong learning and other self-directed learning, I'm 100% with Godfrey.

For corporate learning, where the corporation is paying for your training and has expectations of the achievement of certain learning objectives in support of their expectations of certain performance, it's more appropriate to talk about what holds small pieces together, and in these cases some technology solutions may be appropriate.

I would argue, however, that an LMS is often a pretty poor way to join together the variety of activities that actual constitute the types of learning activities that lead to mastery.

lostmonkey_Kel said...

Who are the one who put the little pieces together so that they become joined? Sometimes it seems like things are happen on random, and after a while, it just seems to all make sense why they all happen.

I'm one quite confused person at the moment, but oddly, the usual "not try to philosophical me" has become almost superstitious of how things are really relating to each other. I don't think small pieces are loosely joined, the loose part may only be our mind that are not able to put things together right away. It is cliche, but it seems like time really unravel a lot of the details that no one really knows.

Anonymous said...

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