Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Cheating as Learning #rhizo14

I like what Dave has to say in his Cheating as Learning video, especially regarding the locus of power which accrues to those with "the answers" in a given environment. As he indicates, we've typically been dissuaded from collaborating or sharing answers and solutions to a particular problems or questions, because this has been deemed to be "cheating."

"Do your own work," we've been told since grade school.

For me the crux of the matter comes down to intent:

Why exactly is it that you're cheating?

If cheating is indeed to be used as a weapon, I'd suggest that it be used for goodness as opposed to evil; that said, who becomes the arbiter of what constitutes "good" and "evil" in a given environment or situation?

GOOD: During my time as a student at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology the more proficient of my peers had developed computer science skills through the use of game cheats, and the understanding this provided of the underpinnings of the games they were playing. Developing, discovering, implementing and sharing these "cheats" allowed these individuals to develop a fluency and proficiency in both the code and social milieu in which it was developed and evolved. In this instance, cheating was used as a weapon to make games more accessible and playable for a wider audience. Those developing the cheats gained status and "cred" and many of these individuals have since parlayed this foundation into careers in computer science.

EVIL: During this same period of time, the same group of individuals commandeered a series of servers within the institution to mount a Quake deathmatch which involved hundreds of students across the campus and essentially amounted to a denial-of-service attack for "legitimate" users within the college. Those responsible were reprimanded, and levels of security were added to guard against a repeat of the situation. No one was was expelled or punished academically for their actions. While the institution may have considered their actions "evil" most of those involved did not, and my impression was they saw this experimentation as a natural extension of the "cheats" they'd initially developed for client machines.The whole notion of cheating as learning has my head spinning (like that's news if you've made it this far into this post) and has me thinking of the concept of "stupidity as a teaching tool" and a post I made to this blog in 2002

What if there are no right answers?

Is there any use in cheating to get the wrong answer?

I mentioned earlier today that I was contemplating the notion of "cheating as learning" as it might relate to corporate (i.e., #cubefarm) and recreational (i.e., ski resort) environments and I'm still struggling with how the implications and repercussions of cheating in both might manifest itself. I seem to keep coming back to intent--why are you cheating, and what to do you intend to accomplish? I need to consider these topics in more detail and will be back with more musings as time permits.

Thanks for reading, and to Dave for a provocative start to #rhizo14

Monday, January 13, 2014

About me #rhizo14

My name is doug symington and I've been interacting, learning and playing in online spaces since before the turn of the century.

From 2001 to 2005 I was an online MEd student at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto (OISE/IT). My OISE/UT studies focused on Curriculum, Teaching and Learning with a specialization in Computer Applications.

This space resulted from my desire to attempt to capture some the coursework and concepts associated with my graduate studies at OISE/UT as well as space for reflection, and a diary of my learning both in and out of school.

During this same time frame I was employed as a Training Developer with SMART Technologies Inc., makers of interactive whiteboards and complementary/supporting software applications.

Throughout my time at OISE/UT and SMART I developed an awareness of the many issues related to "access" and online learning environments. I also became acutely aware that social relationships play a significant role in determining how motivated an individual learner will be to work through and overcome issues associated with access--be they technical, social or a combination thereof.

After leaving SMART I worked in the not-for-profits sector and worked with organizations on Vancouver Island leveraging "free" web tools for development and outreach across and within individual organizations. It was also during this time frame that I had the good fortune to meet @davecormier and @jefflebow and become a contributing member of the community they fostered with @edtechtalk. The many webcasting lessons I learned as a host of EdTechBrainstorm stand me in good stead to this day.

More recently I have returned to the corporate sector as a consultant; however, I continue to be involved in pro bono work for not-for-profits and remain *very* interested in exploring and leveraging "freely" accessible tools for the benefit of individuals and organizations--be they corporate, educational, or not-for-profits.

I've decided to participate in #rhizo14 to get back in with a community of practice of people who "get it" or are at least prepared to give online learning spaces a chance. I'd also like to make an effort to reflect more on my practice by blogging more regularly, and I expect #rhizo14 participation to prompt me in that regard.

I look forward to learning from and with each of you and am very thankful for the opportunity.