Designed for learning

learning – teaching – research – design – technology

Clay Shirky: No, *you* shut up!

(title nods at Clay’s 2006 talk)

Charlie Beckett hosted Clay Shirky at the LSE a couple of weeks ago, and the Podcast is now available for download.

I couldn’t make it to Clay’s talk, but luckily, due to the snow (remember the #uksnow?) some of his interviews were canceled and he generously found some time to have coffee with Niall Winters and me.

Not surprisingly, the conversation turned to design patterns. Clay reminded us of the work he did a few years ago on moderation patterns. Sadly, the original moderation patterns wiki is down. But yay for the waybackmachine, here’s an archived copy.

There’s more than 40 patterns there, dealing with issues of digital identity and managing social dynamics for collaboration / conversation platforms. You would think that at the rate of current technology development, most of these would be obsolete. At the time they where written, nobody had heard of opensocial or OpenId. Yet they are surprisingly relevant. The reason is, that they deal with the social aspects of technology, not with the code. And as fast as technology may change – human nature is reletively stable.

Example? login with email. Have you noticed how more and more sites let you use either a username or login? The rationale for this has nothing to do with technology. Asking us to remember a user name and password for more than seven sites, give or take one, is ignoring the structure of human memory. That may be changed by technology, but marginally.

Social dynamics are much more complex than we tend to realise, which is why most social software is autistic. Its not a fault of the programmers that facebook’s friends featrue looks like this. Anyone (well, any 20 year old male) who would be asked to model the concept of friendship would come up with something similar. What we need is a serious and prolonged attempt at capturing the design patterns for social / participatory media.

But the death of the moderation patterns wiki holds a warning. Sustaining such an effort is not easy. It required institutional, personal and collaborative commitment. That, in turn, relies on the ability to show a constant stream of valuable outputs. I don’t have an answer to that, but its definitely something we’re thinking of as the pattern language network project nears the end of its life.

As for the moderation patterns themeselves, we’re looking into the options for giving them a new home. By the way, my personal favorite is use email.

February 14, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Avi Berman: Attempts of a Mathematician to do Research in Maths Education. Thurs. 5 Feb. 2009, LKL

I’m hosting Professor Avi Berman for a talk at the LKL next week:

Avi Berman: Attempts of a Mathematician to do Research in Maths Education

Thursday 5 February 2009, 12:30pm – 2:00pm
LKL large seminar hall

The effects of teaching linear algebra involving technology-enabled feedback on pedagogical development of lecturers and on conceptual understanding of their students.

Because of logistic constraints and a long-term tradition, large-group frontal lecturing is the main form of teaching undergraduate mathematics. Unfortunately, the traditional lecture, as inspirational as it might be, does not allow many opportunities for developing students’ conceptual understanding through active learning, and supplies lecturers with limited feedback on how effective their teaching is. What the students actually learn when attending lectures remains chiefly a black box for contemporary research and little is known about the pedagogical development of university professors through lecturing. The talk will describe an effort to address this lacuna in the context of a university linear algebra course.


Avi Berman holds the Israel Pollak Academic Chair at the Technion, where he is a Professor of Mathematics and Head of the Department of Education of Technology and Science. He also heads the Israeli Society for Promotion of and Research on Giftedness. His research interests in Mathematics are Nonnegative Matrices and Spectral Graph Theory and in Education – Mathematical Giftedness and University Teaching.

Entry is free, but we would appreciate your registration for administrative purposes:

January 26, 2009 Posted by | London Knowlege Lab, technology | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment



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