Information Abundance

As we continue to collaborate to prepare for the HASTAC P3 event, Kim has asked me a couple more questions

Kim: What do you believe are the challenges and barriers entry scholars will have to navigate as they attempt to make a lifelong career in the Academy?

In a 2007 conversation with Dennis Haarsager, Interim CEO of National Public Radio, he described the Internet as “‘anti-scarcity’, it’s about information abundance. The way to obtain value is not in controlling a scarce resource, the value is to be had in the ability to extract value from the mass of information, by organizing it, filtering it, ‘chunking’ it” What he called an ‘information [organization] theory of value.’

I believe that the shift from information scarcity to information abundance, and from scarcity of feedback from a community of practice to abundance of  feedback alters the dynamic of the university as an institution and the role of the new scholar seeking to make a career there. The “Academy” is a concept from a time of information scarcity that needs to adapt itself to the world of information abundance.

In a previous blog post we discussed connected these scarcity/abundance ideas related to learners working in public spaces and said that in “order to gain any learning value from working in public, the learner must participate in collaborative efforts to extract (or make) value from the information richness of the Internet. This kind of strategy has been called Learning 2.0 by Stephen Downes, who has created this diagram to describe differences between groups and networks as organizational strategies for learning (original sketch midway down this post).

Group (Learning 1.0) Network (Learning 2.0)
Groups require unity Networks require diversity
Groups require coherence Networks require autonomy
Groups require privacy or segregation Networks require openness
Groups require focus of voice Networks require interaction

So the new scholar needs to understand new norms and practices related to information abundance. One of these, I think, is teaching in public, with a community involved in giving feedback to learners. Cathy Davidson has explored one aspect of public teaching, “crowdsourcing grading” here and here.

The HASTAC P3 event will be a place to further explore the implications of crowd sourcing feedback and how to use that feedback to credential learning in a community.

On Transposing Assessment Scales and Mapping to WSU 6

Re: mapping to WSU 6
An inquiring program point wants to know:

A score of 4 is entry level competency, and we will transpose that scale for all programs.  It is absolute, not weighted by us.  (Entry level written communication for your program may not mean the same thing for another,  so our work, not yours, may get a bit messy.)  We will adjust scores according to the scales programs use. So your four point scale with the entry level score of 2(?) becomes a four on the institutional, aggregate report.  Performance doesn’t equate to year in school, either.  We need to be cognizant of ceiling effects. In other words, there is no reason a first year student might not score at a 5 or 6, and, as we have experienced in one program, graduate students assessed anonymously did not perform better than upper division students, and in fact, they did not on average perform at entry level competency.  It’s that absolute scale again.  We have learned, too, that nothing constrains student performance more clearly than low expectations. (As George Kuh noted, we sometimes put the bar so low that students trip over it.)  The goal for graduating seniors (ideally assessed in capstone courses or their equivalent) is anchored at four and other levels of performance radiate from there.   We want to be able to report that “All WSU graduates are held accountable to levels of performance in their programs on standards that are affirmed by professionals and WSU faculty working in collaboration.”  That’s our first line.

“All WSU programs are responsive to those standards and make curricular and pedagogical changes in that context,” is our second.  We want to hold that actual percentages of students performing at competence in abeyance as long as we can.  As a qualification, there are innumerable studies in multiple modes that confirm that graduates from institutions of higher education are NOT being adequately prepared, so the scores in the histogram below are not unusual or, all things considered, even remotely disappointing.  In fact the program’s  work that evinced those scores is exemplary and, not incidentally, sustainable.  In other words, the gold standard for now — for WSU and for NWCC&U and for the HEC Board — and for the foreseeable future is not about showing off results, but showing off the commitment to responsible assessment.

Figure 2:  Disciplinary Scores Reallocated to the WSU 6 Goals of the Baccalaureate*

*The Blue Arrow Indicates Anchored Entry Level Competency

Revision to the Primary Trait Survey

Revision to the Primary Trait Survey In addition to the ratings of each program’s Student Learning Outcomes Assessment Reports with our rubric, we are capturing some basic data about the reports using a more primary trait survey.

The idea is to be able to go back a quickly find specific programs so that we can feature them or analyze their strategies.

Friday 13th we met about the survey we have been using, and created this whiteboard to revise a couple of the key questions. Nils will update the survey today and we’ll try to capture data on all the May programs. (Preview of revised survey is here.)

My arm's almost better

I went to the Doc yesterday with the hope of being freed of my post-op restrictions and to discuss my various arm pains. Good News: He says: “You may do anything you can do.” (Note the careful grammar). I think we both know that I can do less than I want to do, so off to strength training. I see the PT Monday.

Cautionary News: There is a cyst the size of a pea inside the ball, under the area where the rotator cuff work was done. This may go away as the joint gets more load, or it may require a bone graft to fill the void. Right now its internal to the bone, but we took Xrays and I go back in mid-November (3 mo) to see how its progressing. [Late note: Xray was “good.”]

Regarding popping: 30% of people experience this. Its not the surgery, its age related.

Regarding pain in right bicep and shoulder: That is rotator cuff disease. Doc  recommends going as long as I can before treating it. (You bet, given what treating it in the other arm just cost!)

Regarding pain in the left side: Doc shrugs. I’m pleased with your repair. The Gritman Radiologist reports that he doesn’t see anything there (ie, can’t tell it was damaged or repaired). These things take a year to heal.

Evolution of OAI’s professional learning strategies

Recognizing transitions in our unit today we had a discussion about the future of Design Circle meetings and Morning Reading Group [MRG was hosted on Ning and previously on WSU Wiki, both of which have gone away].

A major thread of the discussion took the thread of ‘what are you doing?’ by way of what are you reading and how are you capturing/ sharing it.

We produced this whiteboard

For me the discussion was a return to our previous conversation about the OAI’s web presence/strategy and my thinking about how to develop a professional learning community as part of that web strategy.  As I’m writing this, I’m also connecting to the nascent thinking I’m doing to get ready for the HASTAC P3 event in Sept.

As a result of the discussion I had a couple insights and Josh followed up with me to share his insights.  We concluded an idea to incorporate the idea of a “one minute write” into our discussions. We thought it was worth trying with this discussion.

I will shortly mail a link and invitation to the participants today to write brief comments to this post, “what was your big take away, your muddiest point, your action item, the thing that you want to ponder from today’s conversation?”

[ Comments attached to original post are replies to the prompt. Ed.]

Nils’ take aways

1. I note what I’m not reading, for example the SoTL of the programs I’m working with
2. I’ve thought before about being more intentional about output of my reading, need to return to that
3. This connects to the OAI “blue zone” in our analysis of our web strategy
at 8/11/2010 12:00 PM

Joshua’s Take Aways

1. I too note what I’m NOT reading, particularly in the assessment/evaluation arena.
2. Gary’s thought about rebalancing “pulse-taking” reading vs. reading for deeper learning is very apposite for me.
3. Reliable “output” to an OAI audience would depend on an agreement on a sharing venue. The only one currently working is “OAI.personnel” email, which lacks many useful capabilities. Others (e.g., Diigo group) are hit-and-miss.
Yeidel, JoshuaNo presence information at 8/11/2010 1:11 PM

Judy’s Take Aways

I realized I am reading mainly for pulse taking and awareness of changing attitudes and approaches to ongoing issues in teaching and learning.

I have not been following change management, change agency, or related subjects and I realize that could be very helpful for my understanding of our new, re-focused role.

I got several interesting sounding names and groups to check out.

Rumph, Judy RNo presence information at 8/11/2010 2:39 PM

Lorena’s takeaways:

1. Main takeaway – more things to read; the gap between what we read and how and to whom we output it (with our thoughts about it)
2. Muddiest point – what’s the POD? ; >
3. Action item – create a personal landing page for all my social sharing sites to see how it works;
4. Ponder point – Gary’s point about pulse-taking vs reading for deeper exploration and integration. I need to do less pulse-taking…also think about mechanics & philosophies of sharing meaningfully
at 8/11/2010 2:44 PM

Peg’s Takeaways

1.big take away – how do I do a better job of sharing what I am reading
2.muddiest point – are we trying to focus or direct more what people read?
3. action item – earn to use tags more effectively
4. the thing that you want to ponder – it is interesting that the more technical staff reads about assessment, teaching and learning but the non technical staff do not generally read technical materials.
at 8/12/2010 12:54 PM

Kimberly Gets Candid

Individuals in the unit are reading and thinking about an impressive array of current literature, spread across many discplines, areas, sources, media & mode.  Very stimulating.  An an individual, seeing array made me want to read a lot more.

At the same time, that array of reading lacks systematic sharing and analysis.  Where are our collective knowledge, skills, and attitudes strong, and where are there gaps?  Are people reading to address areas of weakness?  What does our unit need to learn more about?  How are we connecting theory and practice, as a unit?  Also, the internet makes it easier than ever to fall into confirmation bias; to what extent is that impacting all of us?

at 8/12/2010 2:28 PM

Jayme’s takeaways

1. Big takeaway: the group has extremely heterogeneous reading styles and interests.
2. Muddiest point: are we aiming for more homogeneity?
3. Action item: make a systematic effort to share what I’m reading (though this depends on the muddiest point).
4. Ponder point: I realized that when Gary talked about taking the pulse that I do this by keeping track of what others are doing (via Diigo, alerts, etc.) and then dive it when I’m interested.  I would like to be able to leverage others’ readings so that we cover more ground.  Would also like to see the workshop with Melynda Huskey happen since we would probably get multiple books worth of insight about change management.
at 8/12/2010 4:37 PM

Diigo Group as a summary

Awhile ago I added the RSS of our CTLT&Friends group to the sidebar of CommunityLearning blog. It looks pretty good alongside my P3 conferencing planning, which makes me think we are Diigoing some good stuff
Peterson, NilsNo presence information at 8/16/2010 1:57 PM

An invitation to shape my presentation at P3

I am going to be participating in a one day event Peer-to-Peer Pedagogies (P3) Workshop September 10th, 2010 sponsored by HASTAC on the Duke campus.  As part of that, I’ve been assigned to work with Kim Singletary on a bio/ speaker intro piece.

The event was great fun. Thanks to all. Here is the SlideShare from my talk. Coming back on the plane I remembered this piece by Downes on Open Assessment that seems as timely as ever.

This post is an invitation to collaborate with the two of us as we co-develop the materials that Kim will ultimately push into final form. At the same time, I see my dialog with Kim as sharpening my focus for the event. Please weigh in using this blog’s comments. I will continue to edit the body of the post based on your remarks, and any backchannel with Kim, or other readers.

After reviewing some of our blog (written with colleagues of mine at Washington State University) Kim sent a list of questions to get the discussion going. Here is the first of those questions.

Kim: What do you hope will be accomplished at P3? What is your goal for your appearance at the conference?

Nils: I feel like the open learning, peer pedagogy landscape is loosely defined and rapidly changing and I hope to come away with some ideas about where the clusters of agreement lie in this terrain. Brian Lamb and Jim Groom just wrote a piece in Educause Review “Never Mind the Edupunks; or, The Great Web 2.0 Swindle” July/Aug 2010 where they are suggesting that the open learning wave may have crested. They provide an interesting perspective on the shoals that may have dashed the vision.

In the same issue Dave Cormier and George Siemens had a piece on their experiments with open online courses, “Through the Open Door: Open Courses as Research, Learning, and Engagement”   See also some response in Dave’s blog.

My colleagues and I at Washington State University Office of Assessment and Innovation have been approaching this conversation with an eye to two contexts:

  1. The need to expand higher learning opportunities in the developing world is so large that it challenges historic thinking about brick and mortar institutions. John Seely Brown, Don Tappscott and others are talking about this challenge. Some of our analysis of this context is here.
  2. The other context (given our assessment/accountability role at WSU) is the increasing press for accountability and the rising volume in the discussion at national levels about the failures of US higher education to be accountable for its students’ learning outcomes. See this stream of bookmarks on the topic maintained by Gary Brown.

In that context, we’ve been looking at how Personal Learning Environments, or student-owned ePortfolios, can facilitate learning among communities (including peers) and how the learning in those contexts can be credentialed.  A condensation of some of that thinking appears in our discussion of our emerging understanding of an ePortfolio.

We have been developing those ideas, in part, by watching the peer learning and collaborative problem solving of one of WSU’s doctoral students, Margo Tamez.
She blogs:

I would advise anyone who is seriously committed to the larger structural uses of E-portfolios by contemporary students– who by the way do not view the college classroom as their most significant ‘center’ of knowledge and tool acquisition, (providing one is inclined to view the technology and control over the production as the domain of liberatory education)–,to examine their assumptions about knowledge and power and the political will of the Indigenous peoples.

So, one of the things I hope to get from the P3 conversation is more personal clarity on the ideas in this “4 models” figure that we created to think about the changing roles of the university as it moves from traditional brick and mortar, with traditional accountability, to a problem-based curriculum in peer-to-peer university with community-based accountability and credentialing. Along with the four models figure, we created a self-assessment to help clarify the conversation about where each of us in on an institution- vs community-based learning spectrum.

As Margo’s portfolio illustrates, open peer-to-peer learning is necessarily scattered widely across the Internet. Pulling that evidence together for assessment and credentialing is a challenge. Gary Brown coined the term “Harvesting Gradebook” to describe our approach to the problem of allowing learners to gather structured feedback on artifacts of their learning and to route evidence of that feedback back to a ‘home’ institution or to present that feedback as part of a claim within a community for a credential. An early description of the Harvesting Gradebook and how it might work in/out/with a university program appear here (skim down for “Variations in the Model” section).

In my P3 session I hope to introduce some of our Harvesting Gradebook thinking in a large scale real-time experiment using a backchannel where the audience can provide assessment feedback to my presentation.