Working Wikily

I found the Kasper & Scearce article both interesting and useful.  I also appreciated their ability to transform Shirky’s relatively dense prose into some concise, organized thoughts. That said, I hope none of Mr. Shirky’s friends and/or relatives are part of the EDUC689 community. Sorry, Clay. Anyhow, here I go.

1.  I am a firm believer that you have to think about what you want to do before you decide on what tool you want to do it with (page 8, last paragraph).  It is very reminiscent of the idea that analysis is the first step in ADDIE or that computer systems need requirements.  It is not about picking what tool is hot or the latest and greatest.  It’s about saying what problem you want to fix, what capability you want to add, or what relationship you want to create and foster.  I think EDUC689 is doing a good job of adding to our instructional design toolbox, so when we find a need, we have some new solutions to address it.

2.  As an instructional designer, the idea of working together to share knowledge is central to creating meaningful training (page 7 last paragraph)(more analysis, perhaps? See #1 above).  Combining expertise with the shared experience can lead to training vehicles that are both correct and workable in the real world, a worthy goal for any course.  It some ways, the world becomes our SME. This is both exciting and extremely challenging for the development of effective, meaningful training.  I hope that over the course of our study, we discuss the idea of applying informal learning tools to our development of more formal learning.

3.  Steep learning curves and the ubiquitousness of tools is another important theme of the article (page 3, 4th paragraph).  Shirky’s idea of tools becoming “commonplace and boring” to reach their full potential has been true over the life of the technological revolution.  Word processors, email, the internet, GPS, and search engines are all examples of technologies that were once rare and exotic but have reached the state of commonplace. Certainly, social media tools are headed in that direction.  Facebook is an example that has been adopted by over a billion people.  The use of Facebook is taking new directions as its benefits,capabilities and potential become better understood.  Our use in this class certainly goes beyond finding out what people you went to high school with are up to. However, that did not happen over night, and the incorporation of some of the other tools we are working with is going to take time (page 9, 2nd paragraph).  Technology has always depended on the creation of “power users” to spread beyond the stereotypical computer-types to ordinary people.  We need power users, but we also need tools that can be adopted by everyone else; Mr. Shirky’s “Everybody” that is coming our way.  We also need tools that are intuitive and build on people’s previous experiences with technology.  As ISD people, we know that adults learn by building on what they already know.  We also know the level of frustration that occurs when someone like Microsoft changes the user interface of a tools that millions of people work with.  I still don’t know how to do some things with Excel 2010 that I could do with previous versions.  Applying adult learning principle needs to be part of the roll-out of new technology, and informal learning tools are no exception.

4. Finally, the article notes that social networks are indeed social, and that the rules of any human interaction apply (top of page 9).  It is somewhat incongruous that using a computer will form relationships when we understand that true human relationships are messy, uneven and not always successful.  Remaining human needs to be a key aspect as we attempt to form and operate such networks.  We need to answer the questions “How can we bring these relationships to the most basic, one-on-one contact that forms the human bond we all want and need?”

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7 thoughts on “Working Wikily

  1. Hey Mike,

    I think you had some great takes on the Working WIkily article here. Interestingly enough, before I had read your post, I stumbled on something in Twitter and posed a very similar question via tweet about how technologies take off and whether there is a barometer or some kind of litmus test for whether a tech will linger (like FB) and whether it will be used effectively as a training tool. The question I had posed was about Google Classroom (which I didn’t even realize existed) and whether it was a platform that would take off as an instructional mechanism.

    I had a slightly different take on the Working Wikily article, but we had a lot of common themes, talking about the role of these tools as instructional tools.

    Great post here, again I really liked your analysis.

  2. And just to add on to my original comment – I think you have a great point that just because a tech exists, doesn’t mean it is wise to use it (in other words, use analysis in the ADDIE model to determine whether it is a good idea to use it).

    I also agree that even in the short time we’ve been in EDUC689 we’ve gotten some fantastic exposure to additional tools we can add to our toolkit!

  3. Mike, great job summarizing the keys to working wikily, and weaving in the ISD. I’ve never used a fancy LMS. In fact I’m delivering online training using SharePoint 2010 right now. It has it’s limits, but I found a way to make the tool work for my needs. But, if it didn’t work, I wouldn’t be using it.

  4. Hi Mike. I’d like to throw out a friendly challenge to your thinking:
    “I am a firm believer that you have to think about what you want to do before you decide on what tool you want to do it with … It is not about picking what tool is hot or the latest and greatest. It’s about saying what problem you want to fix, what capability you want to add, or what relationship you want to create and foster. I think EDUC689 is doing a good job of adding to our instructional design toolbox, so when we find a need, we have some new solutions to address it.”

    Yes, so long as you allow time and space to play in the mud. It takes me a lot of time mucking around with a new tool before I understand it enough to even understand what it might be good for. Aimless play with an unfamiliar tool oftentimes leads me to discover new ways of thinking, outside of my previous conceptual box. Unstructured exploration of the new tool– if I do not insist on knowing what problem I am trying to fix– sometimes results in finding new questions to ask, new perspectives that are generated by the tool itself.

    After this exploratory phase, when you want to employ the tool in a learning event designed for others, you really need to apply analysis and logic to design something effective. All I am advocating is opening up the exploration to allow free play. You never know what you might discover by accident.

    Thoughts?
    -Joseph

  5. I’m all for play and exploration. Using a tool in circumstances like we are encountering in 689 is excellent. I also think that, as Instructional Designers, before we launch an organization down a path they might regret, we should have a pretty good idea what need we are trying to meet and how that need lines up with the capabilities of the tool we are proposing. We also need to understand the organizational culture we are operating in. People will find their way through whatever we propose, but we also need to understand the price of failure. If what we propose does not work for the organization, will they just move on to something else, or will they say “forget social media.” I guess my bottom line is that as an ID, i need to understand these tools just like I understand ADDIE, SAM, Captivate or whatever other things are crammed in the tool bag.

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