Archive for June, 2010

The Role of “Expert”

June 6, 2010 1 comment

Human perceptions are inherently limited. We function only on the basis of what we know and what we can perceive. That which is new is framed in consideration of what is old and learning, occuring therein, is dependent on our ability to compile new information to our life’s archive of information.

If this is true, which of course is up for debate because it is a personal perspective, than what can be said of our terms of “genius” and “expert”?

Again, an exploration of my personal semantics. The perception of the “expert” or the individual whose knowledge or skills are superior to all others. This individual is perceived by an individual or group as possessing a stock of knowledge or skills that is more comprehensive than all other members of the group. If this is not the case than this person is not the expert.

But what about group think? We tend to seek out the individual who can provide everything we need. Such behavior is efficient both in terms of our own time and the time of the group. Is this not faulted though? Collaboration has been shown to inspire a greater level of understanding and learning by all involved. Here’s my proof.

Based on this foundation are we not better served to vanquish our notions of genius and expert? Are we not better prepared to tackle the problems we face not by seeking out an individual to answer questions/ complete tasks. The better behavioral choice is to gather the group together and focus on the problem. A group of minds that can drill down on a problem will not on work together to solve the issue, but also develop a frame of critical thinking from which future problems can be solved and perhaps prevented.

The need and focus for an expert is a dangerous precedent in human behavior. While efficient and logical this choice functions only for a fast fix and delays learning. A better choice is to focus on group function. Let us vanquish the term of expert and genius. Instead of running to them for answers let us demand they join the group and teach the skills to better understandings.

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Critical Literacies Class: Week One Readings Reflection

June 4, 2010 Leave a comment

How do we protect ourselves from bad info? The readings of week one struck me as focused on the contemporary danger of “too much information”. Today’s brain faces a barrage of inputs, fail to prepare and risk the steam roll as a question brings a billion answers, alternative questions and depth increasing quandaries.

How do we cope in such a place? We are now tasked with learning in a system where access to everything is a hazard- a failure to think critically creates the risk of knowing nothing or, ever worse, knowing incorrectly. In order to protect ourselves and utilize this resource correctly we need to use critical thinking extensively. Our brains are our greatest ally; however, we still fall victim to two major limitations: human and technical.

I. Human Limitations and Solutions:

As a result of our limited abilities to filter and endless curiosity, we are unable to protect ourselves from bad info.

I heard an article on NPR this week reporting on a study that basically suggested that our brains weren’t designed to use a tool like the internet. The study suggested that our brains had not evolved to shift focus as rapidly as the internet allows and even goes as far to say we’re damaging our brain by shifting focus as often as we do. Here’ s the link.

I think there is some accuracy there. Of course it depends on how the internet is used. If we limit ourselves to considering the internet in terms of social networking and communication than this will be a common conclusion. Instead a better notion is to view the internet as a resource with multiple points of access. We can communicate, socialize, research, etc…, but if we fail to focus on a single task or cluster of tasks within our capabilities we obviously run the risk of losing focus.

Our major challenge now is to develop techniques to better understand how to use the internet. Users need to focus on a single task of cluster of tasks best suited for personal efficiency. Once established then the user must use critical thinking to locate and filter information found to meet this goal. The internet can help us do a lot of things, but if we fail to properly use the resource will squander the opportunity. Similarly we do not use our stove to cook and warm our homes, dry our clothes, etc…We have the stove classified as performing a specific function and utilize it according to those terms. A similar classification must be established for the internet.

II. Technical Limitations: Problems and Solutions

As a result of its endless space, the internet can function as an information waste land. Organization already assists us (aggretators, curators and indexers) but we still run the risk of searching for “A” and instead finding “B through Z.” Our technical limitations deal mainly with framing the internet and establishing a system of targeted query.

Just as our brains must develop critical thinking skills, our software must assist us by simplifying this process for us. We still need access to everything- our software should not be designed to think critically for us in lieu we sacrifice our universal access. The best software will develop a frame for our reflection and work to make our process of thinking easier and more organized.

Critical Literacies Online Course

June 2, 2010 Leave a comment

Starting this week I will be participating in the “Critical Literacies” online course located here. I’m looking forward to reading some interesting material and digging into the content. I really like the notion of the “collectivist” learning forms and have learned to update my “constructivist” leanings to this updated format. I’m not looking for anything specific in the glass; instead, I’m looking to it as one massive intellectual buffet. I’ll be posting things here as I read and reflect.

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