At Training 2002, held in Atlanta in February, I attended two sessions by M. David Merrill. Dr. Merrill told us that he is a great fan of Howard Gardner. I bring this up because my recent travels on the 'net have taken me to Dr. Gardner's site. His AN EDUCATION FOR THE FUTURE: The Foundation of Science and Values seems especially pertinent to me as I look for ways to engender online self-organizing social systems (OSOSS) for knowledge building.
I also heard Merrill say that he considered Dr. David Wiley's concept of OSOSS (Wiley and Edwards 2002) as pooled ignorance. While there may not be much to show for efforts just yet, the authors recognize that their model requires a "critical mass" and:
We see the prime areas for future research in OSOSS as twofold: more thorough ethnographic and discourse studies of existing OSOSS, including grounded theory studies that could guide the creation of software infrastructures to facilitate the development of these communities, and studies of ways around the weaknesses in OSOSS. The main obstacle to this research will be the large numbers of participants necessary for self-organization to occur, but the promise of the OSOSS approach merits the effort on the part of researchers. 1
I've proposed the SMART Education Object (SMARTEO), an OSOSS-based learning and teaching strategy for the employees, customers and clients of SMART Technologies Inc. My hope is the model will provide a way for interested parties to engage with others and ultimately become one of the "large numbers of participants necessary for self-organization to occur."