ICT, Resilience, Complexity & Sensemaking

Last week I gave a seminar at the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), renowned for its ground-breaking computing R&D in many fields, including Human-Computer Interaction, Hypertext and Sensemaking.

I was hosted by my long time colleague Maarten Sierhuis (formerly NASA Ames, now Manager of the Knowledge, Language & Interaction Area) and Gregorio Convertino (Augmented Social Cognition Area) who organised the CSCW 2010 Collective Intelligence workshop we attended last year.

As the abstract indicates, the ideas we’re developing connect to Learning Emergence themes of how ICT intersects with resilience thinking in complex adaptive systems (such as educational institutions or leaning networks), and sensemaking. As discussed in another talk, the learning power concept of resilience (and other ELLI dimensions) are relevant when it comes to discussing the habits and skills of staff when an organisation is confronted by overwhelming complexity.

ABSTRACT: To thrive, organizational entities (learning communities; teams of analysts; formal companies) must make sense of a complex, changing environment. Our interest is in how sociotechnical “collective intelligence” infrastructures may augment this capacity. We are seeking conceptual lenses that illuminate this challenge, and draw ideas from resilience thinking, sensemaking, and complexity science. We propose that these motivate the concept of Contested Collective Intelligence (CCI), and give examples of how the Cohere platform is being designed in response to these requirements. This is a social/semantic web annotation and knowledge mapping environment, with tools for monitoring networks of ideas and generating novel analytics. We also report experimental integration with the Xerox Incremental Parser, in order to evaluate human+machine annotation of knowledge-level claims expressed through rhetorical moves in documents.

BIOS: Simon Buckingham Shum is a Senior Lecturer and Associate Director (Technology) at the UK Open University’s Knowledge Media Institute (KMi), where he leads the Hypermedia Discourse Group. Following a PhD at U. York in HCI/Hypertext/Design Rationale (sponsored by Xerox EuroPARC) he has developed a human-centered computing perspective to the challenge of computer-supported sensemaking, reflected in the books Visualizing Argumentation and Knowledge Cartography. He co-founded the Compendium Institute and LearningEmergence.net. http://people.kmi.open.ac.uk/sbs

Anna De Liddo is a Research Associate in KMi, where she works with Simon on the Open Learning Network project (olnet.org), focusing on the design and development of a Collective Intelligence infrastructure for the Open Education Resources movement. She gained her PhD at Polytechnic of Bari, investigating ICT for Participatory Planning and Deliberation, after which she held a postdoctoral position in KMi evaluating human-centred argument mapping for Climate Change. http://people.kmi.open.ac.uk/anna

These demo movies show Cohere as a complement to the slides. More detailed presentations of some of the ideas summarised in this talk are in the following:

De Liddo, A.; Buckingham Shum, S.; Quinto, I.; Bachler, M. and Cannavacciuolo, L. (2011). Discourse-centric learning analytics. In: LAK 2011: 1st International Conference on Learning Analytics & Knowledge, 27 Feb – 01 Mar 2011, Banff, Alberta. Eprint: http://oro.open.ac.uk/25829

De Liddo, A. and Buckingham Shum, S. (2010). Cohere: A prototype for contested collective intelligence. In: ACM Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW 2010) – Workshop: Collective Intelligence In Organizations – Toward a Research Agenda, February 6-10, 2010, Savannah, Georgia, USA. Eprint: http://oro.open.ac.uk/19554

Buckingham Shum, S. and De Liddo, A. (2010). Collective intelligence for OER sustainability. In: OpenEd2010: Seventh Annual Open Education Conference, 2-4 Nov 2010, Barcelona, Spain. Eprint: http://oro.open.ac.uk/23352

Simon Buckingham Shum, Ágnes Sándor, Anna De Liddo & Michelle Bachler: Integrating Human & Machine Document Annotation for Sensemaking. Seminar, 11th November 2010, Knowledge Media Institute, The Open University, UK. http://olnet.org/node/512

Trafalgar Primary School in Victoria, Australia, pioneers radical approaches to learning

Vicki Miles, Principal, Trafalgar Primary School in Victoria gives an overview of how her students are enhancing arts and media skills with integrated technology.

Trafalgar Primary school is a progressive and innovative school that seeks to find learning experiences that support their philosophy of valuing the “whole child”. Trafalgar teachers actively engage in creating learning opportunities that support students in developing 21st century learning skills, specifically how students learn and engage with technology. With a highly successful integrated music and technology program, a fully functioning recording studio and a desire to engage with student interest, Trafalgar teachers wished to trial a number of innovative programs with their Grade 5/6 students through a newly developed open learning centre.

How about trialling EnquiryBlogger too?

Webcast: mapping ideas in an enquiry

As part of The Open University’s doctoral training programme, which we’re opening increasingly to the world as open educational resources, here’s the webcast and multimedia resources from my keynote at last week’s Research Methods conference. The Cloudscape from this event, which was live-blogged, is itself a great resource to mine (see also the Research Skills clouds).

It was fun putting this together, and I squeezed in as many movies and live demos as possible from the projects we’ve done with Compendium to illustrate how far Vannevar Bush’s original 1945 conception of the Memex has come (widely regarded as conceiving hypertexts, such as the Web), and how far a particular visual hypermedia tool with a very simple notation (IBIS) for mapping questions, ideas and arguments, can go…

In this talk I will introduce the work of the Hypermedia Discourse Group at the Knowledge Media Institute, which is focusing on how software tools may shape the future of scholarship. Our particular interest is in how new forms of narrative can emerge through the use of hypertext tools that treat ideas, problems and arguments as coherent networks of nodes. This enables us to reframe qualitative data analysis, and scientific publishing, as the construction of narrative networks, grounded in primary sources. I will illustrate this with examples from projects including the NASA Mobile Agents project, the Hewlett Foundation OLnet project, and the AHRC+EPRSC+JISC e-Dance project.

Change Stories: teachers’ accounts of how they changed their practice

Visiting University of Kent at Canterbury yesterday, I met Sally Fincher. She is  running an intruiging project called Change Stories, a narrative approach to eliciting accounts of practitioner learning:

Our Question

  • When do you make changes to your teaching?
  • What gives you the idea?
  • What do you do then?

Our Idea: We aim to gather hundreds of real examples of how and when and why educators change their practice.

Narrative is important to authentic enquiry. Even more interestingly, this is a project as part of her work on a Cognitive Edge course, arising from the work that Dave Snowden has been developing over the last decade, on the application of complexity theory to sensemaking. The  narrative database you’re taken to provides an engaging user interface which uses graphical slides and triangles to provide an expressive medium:

Cognitive Edge: story database screen1

Cognitive Edge: story database screen2

Cognitive Edge: story database screen3

So, several levels of connection with LFRnet!

Maybe Learning Futures teachers would be willing to share their stories of quite radical transformation…?

Digital support for Authentic Enquiry

Just back from a workshop trialling our WordPress plugins for EnquiryBlogger, a tool we’re developing for Learning Futures.

[slideshare id=6039473&doc=enquiryblogger-lf-dec2010-101205143629-phpapp01]

We had a mixed group of Learning Futures teachers, other teachers and workplace learning specialists, convened by Ruth Deakin Crick from the Systems Learning & Leadership group at U. Bristol. The group was being introduced to, and engaging in, an example of authentic enquiry, as proposed by Deakin Crick, which starts with the selection of a specific, concrete object, place or person, and then builds out from there through a range of activities, to connect with bigger questions and existing knowledge:

Deakin Crick, R. (2009). Inquiry-based learning: reconciling the personal with the public in a democratic and archaeological pedagogy. Curriculum Journal, 20(1), 73 – 92

My colleague Rebecca Ferguson and I ran a blog as a “digital shadow”, mirroring and reflecting on participants’ use of lo-fi media (e.g. stickies, pen+paper), in order to help construct requirements for improving EnquiryBlogger, and for software support for mapping using Compendium +/or Cohere.

On Day 2, I was using Compendium to sketch ideas in the background as Ruth took the group through the process of searching for the emerging Big Ideas in all the material, in particular, the ‘homework’ stories that people brought about the object of enquiry: an old meat mincer:

By the end of the workshop, I had mapped the following as a way both to track our own process (the home map)

Inside these maps are prototype map designs I did as I watched the process the group went through with the stickies, asking the question to myself: How might learners transition from EnquiryBlogger into Compendium, as they look for the bigger questions that start to emerge from investigating a specific object, and choose one to investigate in more depth, connecting to the funds of knowledge which already exist.

The way we’re thinking at the moment, rather than automatically populate Compendium with replicas of what is in the blog, the focus is on providing a simple visual scaffold for affinity analysis — such as a Fishbone skeleton — and asking the learner to review their blog, and drag+drop key elements on the fish:

We will discuss this further at the OU, and welcome any comments on the mapping. I started mapping the design rationale for different technical solutions:

The maps are published in our public Map Exchange in Moodle, and can be viewed in your browser (graphical or outline formats) and the data file can be downloaded if you have installed Compendium (drag+drop the zip file onto an open map in Compendium)