Software Engineer’s Blog

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An interesting presentation on technology-enabled self-organizing learning system

Quite an insightful presentation on technology-enabled self-organizing learning system.

Presenter is explaining learning technology experiments conducted across climatic, geographic, ethnic, social conditions. I think, there are points to ponder that can impact future learning significantly

October 23, 2010 Posted by | e-Learning, eLearning, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

From data processing to knowledge sharing, and beyond

At times, it is good to step back and take a look at what we are doing. I believe, it is the very essence of what Stephen Covey referred to as “Sharpen the Saw: Principles of Balanced Self-Renewal”; the seventh habit in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People . I would say, caught in the rat race, this is one of the first good habit that is easily compromised

An interesting blog Knowledge vs. Information…Which is it? reminded me on this, to take a look at e-learning; or more precisely learning itself

Computer has evolved from being a device for data processing to a platform for knowledge sharing. However, does that make a platform for learning. No doubt, it assists but to be a platform for learning, I believe we have still a long way to go

What am I saying? Well, there is distinct difference in both the notion and dictionary meaning for terms i) data, ii) information, iii) knowledge, iv) expertise and v) wisdom

Why is this important to discuss? We live in a world where i) huge amount of data is being created and processed every minute, ii) amount of information we require to consume and process to make decision to stay effective and competitive, both in personal life and business is huge and is increasing, iii) great deal of effort goes into creation of data and processing of information rather than presenting for a purpose, iv) ability to assimilate information to make quick decisions could make huge differences in personal life, career and business.

Let me explain this in a context. My father has been going through a traumatic phase over last two years; short term memory loss and similar strange behavioral patterns. From the descriptions from his physician, I understand that this is due to a growth (hopefully benign) in the brain. What is the issue? What is the cause? What is the best possible treatments? What are side effects? What are do’s and don’ts?

Before web, information to me was limited to what our physicians in the friendly neighborhood could offer but now a whole world of information is available to me. Mark my words, it is information at best; not knowledge!

I do not expect my doctor to be God. I do not expect my doctor to be all powerful and all knowing. I do respect the profession and respect the person. But I would like to educate myself. I do not expect to educate myself to the level of my doctor. As a professional, I understand what it takes to be a professional. My intention behind educating myself is to make informed decisions; as best as I can

I do it but I think it could be better. I look forward to it being better. I look forward to making it better if I can. What does it take? That is where I believe we need to distinguish between i) data, ii) information, iii) knowledge, iv) expertise and v) wisdom.

What is the distinction?
I believe, they are:
Data, as we all know, is raw facts.
Information is relevant data available on time.
Knowledge is internalized information/awareness,
Expertise is ability to apply knowledge (what)/skill (how)
Wisdom is knowing when/where to apply

To me, learning is moving from having to work with a lot of data to wisdom where I can make informed decisions. As an old saying goes, first quarter of learning is from the master, second is from the learner himself/herself, third is from peers and forth from experience.

Web 2.0 has everything that it takes to make it happen. Well, someone needs to make it happen

December 9, 2009 Posted by | Collaboration, e-Learning, eLearning, Healthcare | 1 Comment

Defining Quality in eLearning world

This is inspired by blog Defining Quality in Learning for Virtual Worlds, Mobile Devices and Online Modules. I believe it is high time we get on with a working definition of quality from e-Learning systems.

When we talk about quality, definition that is closest to my heart is ‘value to someone’ from Dr. Gerald M. Weinberg. It is closest to my heart because I find it easy to apply into a business context. Well, that some one is the customer who invests in the product on behalf of the user (if customer and user are different). That is also the user who actually uses the product. That also includes balancing interests of many other stakeholders. Does that sound confusing? Not necessarily. Art of management is about balancing various forces. It is not one at the cost of others

That brings to FURPS+, traditional classification of quality we use in software engineering. I believe all dimensions require attention. Reliability, Performance and Supportability of the solution is as important as Functionality and Usability.

Well, that sounds too generic? What is “good enough” quality for a specific project/product must be assessed with respect to stakeholders of that project/product. I believe, assessing them on all dimensions are important though one could define degree of acceptable tolerance/compromise taking respective stakeholders into confidence

Now getting specific to the eLearning, two key elements that make a successful eLearning system are i) technology and ii) content. From technology perspective, I would consider adaptability, scalability and maintainablity apart from FURPS+. Well, I am aware these are already addressed by FURPS+ but I think these require special attention as the eLearning technology space is still evolving. From content perspective, I would classify it further into quality of content, quality of content presentation, and quality of content delivery. In the latter two (that is, quality of content presentation and quality of content delivery) role of technology is significant but what I would like to assess is what does it mean for the user, and other stakeholders

November 10, 2009 Posted by | e-Learning, eLearning, Software Quality | Leave a comment

Agile approach and Learning systems

I came across an interesting write up on ‘Agile Design: An Ethos for Creating Learning Platforms‘; a welcome initiative to bring agile approach into learning systems

Going my recent exploration in eLearning space, of late, I believe that this space is set to change with convergence of information and communication technologies and rapid changes taking place in related technologies. But I have not come across any product (commercial or otherwise) nor I have seen (or read about) any implementation, leveraging these even to a reasonable extent. Many, as I know, are in the research labs. Well, that is precisely my point.

Technology is only one of the influencing factors. It is, primarily, an enabling factor rather than a driving factor. Key is appreciation of its business potential, realization of business need and implementation of a solution to meet this need. This gives a clear business focus. Without such a focus, I find that, eLearning initiative gets pulled in different directions, especially given that eLearning represents confluence of many specialization. Resulting system becomes a skewed implementation influenced by political rather than business considerations.

Most significant influence of agile approach in software development, as I see it, is bringing focus back, from excessive documentation in the name of process and engineering, into delivering business value with honest communication and teamwork. I believe adoption of agile approach would help eLearning space as well, bringing focus back into business considerations especially given diverse, sometimes conflicting interests, of stakeholders of eLearning space

October 27, 2009 Posted by | Agile, e-Learning, eLearning, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Few Lessons Learned About eLearning

It is good to take pause a while, look back on what we are doing and take a look at where we are headed. It is good to take some hard questions! I glad to note a few good pointers in this line in a few lessons Learned About eLearning.

As a developer and user of e-Learning and as a trainer and mentor myself, I do not expect e-Learning to replace learning just as electronic or web publishing does not replacing conventional publishing but I would expect it to become a serious alternative. It is not yet and I believe it needs to go a long way before it can. Better and more standards is something that can surely expedite.

I believe e-Learning needs to bring together best of many worlds to be effective and successful. These include world of education, technology, subject matter (not every each subject can be taught the same way), cognitive science and many more. This needs to be aligned with market and business! e-Learning should be powered by technology, enabled by educators, driven by business and delivered to the learner!

Yes, e-Learning is an important application of technology and needs to take itself seriously. I would expect it to be increasingly guided by standards, driven by business, committed to deliver value to the learner. There are things that must, things that we can, things that we can not, and things that we must not.

October 25, 2009 Posted by | Business, e-Learning, eLearning | Leave a comment

What is good for others should be good for us too, right?

I came across a news about ‘Pan-African e-network for education and health care‘. Interesting, indeed.

I happened to visit Nigeria a couple of years back; and, I believe, that is a country which is relatively better off among countries of that continent. I have a few friends in some other countries there as well.

Land of many great people but many there are not privileged to live with the kind of comforts, including quality health care and education, that we almost take for granted. From that perspective, I am sure, it is good initiative for the continent largely ignored.

I think it is high time for action, back in India as well. Two areas that we can hardly afford to miss is education and health care considering spread and diversity of the country. Well, almost all educational and health care institutions worth its name is on network one way or other. How far have we tapped e-Network? Real value is not in the physical connectivity but rather on content, services and collaboration within the network and world at large.

India’s recent rise into global scene owes credit to initial policies and initiatives of visionary leadership of independent India. These have laid a strong foundation for bold economic initiatives of 1990s could build on. It is important that this advantage is not frittered away amidst the euphoria. If we fail to capitalize on this, growth that we see now will be short-lived. Interestingly, India has a unique advantage at this moment with proven expertise in information and communication technologies.

October 11, 2009 Posted by | e-Learning, Healthcare | Leave a comment

eLearning 2.0

eLearning 2.0

eLearning 2.0

August 17, 2009 Posted by | e-Learning, eLearning, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

eLearning kaleidoscope

eLearning kaleidoscope

eLearning kaleidoscope

August 17, 2009 Posted by | e-Learning, eLearning, Uncategorized | Leave a comment