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Leapfrog Ecuador!

I’m back from a week in Ecuador, where I participated in a conference hosted in the Faculty of Latin American Social Sciences (FLACSO), and delivered two invited lectures. At FLACSO, I discussed the co-seminar conducted by myself and Dr. Arthur Harkins at the University of Minnesota, in cooperation with FLACSO-México (lead by Dr. Cristóbal Cobo).

On Monday, Cobo and I visited the Universidad San Francisco de Quito, and presented to a group of about 150 students and faculty. Cobo discussed his new book, Planeta Web 2.0, and I followed-up with a presentation on the collaboration between UMN-FLACSO, with a focus on our co-seminar model.

On Tuesday, Cobo and I presented the co-seminar model, our joint course, lessons learned, and future prospects at the FLACSO 50th Anniversary conference. Much of the discussion with the audience was centered on the future of education. Dr. Eduardo Ibarra (from UAM-Cuajimalpa) commented on the need for post-disciplinary learning (the dynamic creation of new disciplines, often at the personal level), beyond the transdisciplinary scope that we presented. (That’s Leapfrog thinking!) Eduardo will host a conference on imagining futures for Mexican universities in 2030 in early December. I will participate there, so we will have a lot to talk about!

“Version 2.0” of the seminar will commence in January. This time, in addition to FLACSO-México, FLACSO-Ecuador and FLACSO-Chile may also join. Following a Skype conference with Ismael Peña-López (of ICTlogy), it’s possible that Ph.D. students at UOC in Barcelona will participate as well. So, it is conceivable the co-seminar may be conducted in three languages: English, Spanish and Catalan.

Wednesday involved an early morning flight to the Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja (UTPL) in Southern Ecuador. The school has 23,000 students, of which 20,000 are distance learners. Cobo and I toured the campus, met with leaders of the central administration and research centers, and delivered lectures to about 250 students and faculty. Cobo again discussed Planeta Web 2.0, but also focused on “so what?” questions regarding his book. I discussed the New Paradigm and the Leapfrog Principle. Together, we highlighted how accelerating change is transforming everything in society, and the students presented cheered at several of the leapfrog-enabling technologies on the horizon.

A few audience members posted their reactions to our lectures:

(In two of the above posts, I am incorrectly noted as a co-author of Planeta Web 2.0. That’s not true! It’s written by Cristóbal Cobo and Hugo Pardo. Also, a statement I made was misinterpreted. To correct the record, I stated that U.S. universities are now only discussing incorporating Web 2.0 technologies into their schools; whereas Loja is already adopting their use in the curriculum.)

An interesting aspect of UTPL is that its students and recent graduates run its research centers, and that the university is providing spaces for student-run “skunk works.” In addition to providing facilities, UTPL provides these entrepreneurial students with business and legal advice for forming successful ventures in Ecuador. Their hope is to create a new Silicon Valley in the Loja Valley. I found this focus on youth empowerment to be enlightening.

Wednesday afternoon focused on conversations with UTPL leaders on “what’s next.” More on that will emerge over the next few months… stay tuned!

An ISSN for Education Futures

As Education Futures nears its third anniversary, a couple changes are taking place:

  1. The Library of Congress has issued ISSN 1940-0934 to this blog. This means Education Futures is a recognized serial and is cataloged by the Library.
  2. Global Leapfrog Education (ISSN 1933-0200) is now merged with Education Futures. Future GLE articles will be published as a section within Education Futures and cataloged with the new ISSN.

As the academy (slowly!) moves toward recognizing blogs as legitimate, peer-reviewed publications, and as the boundaries between blog posts and traditional publications continue to blur, it is important for blogs to adopt ISSNs. For more discussions on ISSN and blogs, see especially:

Flashbacks: Morphonix and the Brock Effect

Reader Arturo B. from Durango (Mexico) notes that Karen Littman posted an outstanding essay from 1992 in which she describes why she started Morphonix (creators of Neuromatrix, discussed in an earlier post):

Even young children will become researchers as they discover and explore new information at their own pace. New technology is multisensory. It allows a student to use his or her curiosity to learn and develop his or her own personal understanding of the world. Students can choose to express ideas with words, pictures, and music.

In the classroom of the future, students will work on individualized programs tailored to meet each child’s interests and needs. They will learn how to problem-solve and synthesize information. Creativity and personal exploration will be encouraged.

Fifteen years later, many of us are still talking about these same ideas as necessities for advancing education, but they still haven’t caught on. Eerie, huh?

Also, I’m pleased to announce Brock Dubbels will continue to post more often on Education Futures as a regular contributer! We’ve noticed a bit of a “Brock Effect” where site traffic quadruples when Brock posts his thoughts:

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Somebody’s taking interest. Rock on, Brock!

Games in the Classroom (part three)

Twenty years ago, playing games over a distance might have meant that you played turn-taking games like chess over email, and you were cutting edge. I remember people playing chess through snail mail! You would make your move and wait for a reply.

What is happening now is taking place in real-time in virtual environments that are interactive and look better than many films. Decisions, actions, and communications happen like they would in a face-to-face conversation, but they are done through a proxy, that is first and second-person perspectives with an avatar: a graphical representation of yourself in the game space.

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Here is my avatar in Second Life.

He is a mix of Yoda, Pei Mei, Zatoichi, Master Po, and Real Ultimate Power. I would have liked to have made him old, but this is only possible if you learn to use some tools outside of the game to create more specialized characters. There are many who do this custom avatar creation, and the cool thing is that you could make your avatar something other than a person. Maybe a virus or a mailbox.

In fact, many people are already creating a comfortable living creating products for in game use. If you have not seen it yet, there are already success stories of people capitalizing on the new economies that virtual worlds have created.

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In this Business Week article, one school teacher in Germany has made substantial gains flipping virtual property!

Imagine that you have the tools and access to build in these environments. In Second Life you do. You can visit models of the Sistine Chapel, Yankee Stadium, or even visit government agencies like the Center for Disease Control. You can build what you like on your virtual land.

What make this kind of play appealing is the ability to play and communicate when you want, and the possibility of meeting people from all over the planet. The prospect of building models and interacting in this environments should be very appealing to educators. This is an extension of the diorama. (Tomorrow I will talk about a project using these ideas in the classroom).

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Top ten list #6: Tech tools and Web resources to start leapfrogging now

ten-days-sm.pngWe’re back this week with the final five top ten lists! Today’s list contains tools and Web resources to help people start leapfrogging now.

Note: It’s hard to create an innovative tools top ten list while omitting services from Google – but, for the purpose of this list, Google is left off because everybody wants to be like Google. Why be like Google when you can leapfrog the industry?

  1. GNU/Linux: It’s open. It’s free. It works. And, it’s very well supported.
  2. Tom at Sky Blue Waters believes no leapfrogger can get by without a proper RSS feed to quickly digest and disseminate information.
  3. WordPress: Get your message out and solicit reponses with the best blogging tool out there.
  4. Wikimedia or other open knowledge-based software to quickly publish your stuff and open it for public additions, corrections, or (if necessary) deletions. Wikimedia is the platform that powers Wikipedia and Wikiversity.
  5. Second Life, World of Warcraft, Croquet and other virtual environments for building new social contexts, experiences and for trying out things you can’t get away with in the real world.
  6. Skype: You’ll want to talk a lot to others around the world. Why not do it for free or almost free?
  7. Old skool media (also available on the Web): New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, etc., etc., etc…
  8. Social bookmarking (e.g., del.icio.us): Find new ideas and resources, share them with others, and learn more along the way.
  9. Creative Commons licensing: Mark your creative work with the freedoms you want it to carry.
  10. Finally, if the resources you need aren’t out there, create your own. Need help? Consider building a team online.

Bienvenida and welcome!

Saludos! …to visitors from the UMN-FLACSO knowledge seminar!

I hope that this blog will serve as good resource for exploring issues surrounding knowledge and innovation societies. There are three easy ways to navigate this site to find the information you’re interested in:

  1. Use the search box at the top of this page.
  2. Browse the list of categories on the right.
  3. Explore the tag cloud, where more frequently explored topics, ideas and memes appear in larger print.

As on the course blog, discussion and debate is also invited and encouraged here! Feel free to post your feedback!

Also, University of Minnesota students are encouraged to create their own blogs. The UMN Libraries hosts a “UThink” service that allows any person affiliated with the university to publish their own blog. More information is available at: http://blog.lib.umn.edu/

Singularity Institute blog launched

The Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence (SIAI) has launched a blog covering research and outreach updates, videos, articles, papers, events, goals, and relevant science and technology news.

SIAI is a not-for-profit research institute in Palo Alto, California, with three major goals: furthering the nascent science of safe, beneficial advanced artificial intelligence (self-improving systems) through research and development, research fellowships, research grants, and science education; furthering the understanding of its implications to society through the AI Impact Initiative and annual Singularity Summit; and furthering education among students to foster scientific research.

A course for knowledge and innovation workers

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I’ve been busy preparing an innovative course with Dr. Arthur Harkins and corresponding colleagues at FLACSO México that deals with moving “from information to innovative knowledge.” The course is offered in the Innovation Studies and Liberal Studies programs at the University of Minnesota; and will be offered concurrently by FLACSO México. The course will meet twice per week for eight weeks this summer, and will involve real-time seminar activities (via Acrobat Connect, Skype, etc.) with our counterparts in Mexico City once per week. Asynchronous learning outside of the classroom will take place via a course blog and wiki.

This seminar focuses on the development and application of knowledge and innovation capital within competitive national and global contexts. The pedagogy is simulation based, utilizing a dynamic knowledge model managed by you, the student, to develop knowledge creatively and apply it innovatively within contexts ranging from the personal to the global. The seminar is intended to bring forward a wide range of literature, perspectives, and practical simulations on innovative knowledge development and its application to personal and organizational innovations.

Knowledge of Spanish is useful for the course, but not necessary. IS/LS students can register through UMN One Stop.

For more information, contact me at moravec@umn.edu or Art Harkins at harki001@umn.edu.