Questions for 2011

So, as we approach the end of a year, we start to see the predictions, wrap-ups and trends for the next few years as well as the year that has passed. Seeing as I almost always end my blog posts with a question – here’s five questions for the year 2011.

1. What makes anyone think that the video games push (mostly by the iOS platform devices, but Xbox, Playstation and Wii) has anything to do with formal education? Trying to harness gaming to teach formal concept is like riding a chicken. Useless (for both you and the chicken). People play games to escape what they don’t like about their own life – much like why people watch TV, use the Internet or whatever other hobby one might have. They don’t necessarily want to have learning forced on them in their own homes. That isn’t to say that educational games can’t be good (although they mostly are dreck), or shouldn’t be attempted. They shouldn’t be expected to fill more than a niche.

2. Why haven’t educational institutions really pushed for a mobile learning environment? It seems like logical growth from the LMS, and there’s a lot of affordances that can enhance learning. Situated, just-in-time learning has a greater impact for learning than plain old quizzes in the LMS. Why haven’t the engineering departments demand more Geo-location devices? Why haven’t literacy skills groups put forth the same sort of effort that the BBC World Service has in Bangladesh? That sort of ingenuity could help the impoverished and undereducated in Canada (and in Hamilton). One of the biggest hurdles the urban poor have is literacy skills. Why is no one doing this locally? Moreover, why are our LMS’s so pisspoor as a mobile website.

3. Will the consolidation of the web conferencing tools that education typically use (Wimba and Elluminate) mean that new companies with new models will arise? We’ve locally seen a couple of contenders – BigBlueButton is easy to use and has most of the features one would want, as well as SabaCentra for Northern Ontario – but will most institutions just cave in and use Blackboard Connect? It seems like that may be the case.

4. Wither edupunk? Much like punk rock did after the halcyon days of 1977, the widespread punk phenomenon died out and either got co-opted into new wave or went further underground, got harder and faster, became hardcore and rather dogmatic by 1984. Since then, there hasn’t been a lot of innovation in the genre, except that the music has gotten uglier and more punishing (and less like music). Edupunk seems to have hit that moment where people either pass the moment or become more underground. I have hope that much like punk music in 2010 (which has been a weak year for new releases – on vinyl no less – in the genre), edupunk will be a vibrant, thriving option in 2043.

5. What will Pearson as a publishing giant and accredited University mean? Well, it’ll give the hucksters at University of Phoenix and Full Sail a run for their money. I’m not saying those institutions are bad per se, I’m sure a quality education can be had there. I’m not sure that an educational institution should have profit as it’s motivation.

Twitter Stats

So despite Twitter’s hubris, only 8% of Americans use it (that’s approximately 17 million users). What’s interesting is that somewhat diverse groups are using it. What needs to be looked at next is that are these different groups using Twitter for different purposes. I wonder if the initial influence of hip hop and basketball stars using the service were race predictors of who would use the service later? As if the initial celebrities who spent time on Twitter created a space where minority groups felt safe, and would then follow and accept the service as something race neutral. I’ve heard and often thought that Facebook was white, which is a big detractor for me – the blandness of the design and lowest common denominator mentality. Twitter seems like nuggets of ideas, some interesting and worthwhile, some not so much.

I’d also like to know how “use” is defined – is one tweet a week using Twitter? Or is it more often? Does posting a tweet determine use, or is logging in enough (the equivalent of a Twitter lurker – twilurker)? Does frequency determine more use? There’s lots of interesting avenues of research to follow up with Twitter users.