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Not-yetness | the red pincushion
"I have done several talks lately about the idea of not-yetness. It’s an idea that Jen Ross (University of Edinburgh) and I first wrote about in our chapter, Complexity, mess, and not-yetness: Teaching online with emerging technologies, to be published in the forthcoming second edition of Emerging Technologies in Distance Education. In the first edition of the book, our esteemed editor, George Veletsianos, wrote about defining emerging technologies. He wrote that emerging technologies can be both old and new technologies and they are constantly-evolving organisms that experience hype cycles. George also noted that emerging technologies satisfy two “not yet” conditions: they are not fully understood, and not fully researched.

These not-yet conditions hit home for Jen and me. Writing from a complexity theory lens, we thought of not-yetness as being related to emergence. Noel Gough (2012) defines emergence as a key attribute of most human environments and systems, and what occurs when “a system of richly connected interacting agents produces a new pattern of organization that feeds back into the system.”

In our context, emergence is allowing new ideas, new methodologies, new findings, new ways of learning, new ways of doing, and new synergies to emerge and to have those things continue to feed back into more emergence. Emergence is a good thing. For us, not-yetness is the space that allows for emergence. Not-yetness is not satisfying every condition, not fully understanding something, not check-listing everything, not tidying everything, not trying to solve every problem…but creating space for emergence to take us to new and unpredictable places, to help us better understand the problems we are trying to solve (to use Mike Caulfield’s wisdom).

This is becoming increasingly important in education, where the rhetoric surrounding educational technology pushes simplification, ease, efficiency, and measurable-everything. This rhetoric goes hand-in-hand with the accountability movements (many call it “evidence-based practice”) at play in educational contexts. Randy Bass wrote that “these pressures for accountability are making us simultaneously more thoughtful and more limited in what we count as learning.” We hear a lot about “best practices” and “what works,” which Jen and others (Sian Bayne, Hamish Macleod, and Clara O’Shea) have argued is a “totalising notion.” There are lots of ways of understanding what our students experience, lots of ways to do things “right,” lots of definitions of right.

Davis and Sumara (2008) argue that “an education that is understood in complexity terms cannot be conceived in terms of preparation for the future. Rather, it must be construed in terms of participation in the creation of possible futures” (p. 43). And yet the push for simplicity and accountability defines a pretty narrow set of possible outcomes for students. Gardner Campbell cautions us to be careful with learning outcomes statements: “Yet these {learning outcomes} are still behaviors, specified with a set of what I can only describe as jawohl! statements, all rewarding the bon eleves and marching toward compliance and away from more elusive and disruptive concepts like curiosity or wonder.” Simplification and an over-pursuit of accountability run counter to our view that education is complex, messy, creative, unpredictable, multi-faceted, social, and part of larger systems.

We argue that not-yetness helps us to make space for critical discussions and experiments with emerging technologies in a way that recognizes the beautiful complexity of teaching and learning. As Jen said in our ET4Online plenary talk, which focused on messiness and not-yetness in digital learning, “We can use it to tell new stories about what teachers, students, developers, designers and researchers are doing in our digital practices, and why it is hard, and why it matters. We can take better account of issues of power, responsibility, sustainability, reach and contact in digital education. We can be more open about the work of education.”
To that end, Jen and I write in our forthcoming chapter, “We need practices that acknowledge and work with complexity to help us stay open to what may be genuinely surprising about what happens when online learning and teaching meets emerging technologies. In this sense, our focus as educators should be on emergent situations, where complexity gives rise to ‘new properties and behaviours… that are not contained in the essence of the constituent elements, or able to be predicted from a knowledge of initial conditions’ (Mason 2008, p.2).”

So what does all of this mean for educators? Here are some ideas. Embracing not-yetness means making space for learning opportunities that:

• promote creativity, play, exploration, awe

• allow for more, not fewer, connections, more personalization (true personalization, not necessarily what has been offered to us by adaptive learning companies)

• transcend bounds of time, space, location, course, and curriculum

• encourage students to exceed our expectations, beyond our wildest outcomes, pushes back on “data science of learning” focus

• do not hand over essential university functions and important complexities over to private industry

In my talks, I shared examples of projects that I think embody or embrace not-yetness. I’ll share those examples in my follow-on post.

As I was looking at these projects, trying to better understand them, I started thinking about Legos. I love Legos. I was talking to my friend Mike Caulfield, who is at Washington State University-Vancouver about this idea and he said, “do you remember when Legos used to just be free-range Legos? Now, they are these sets that have instructions and tell you how to build exactly what they want you to build. They were trying to eliminate the problem of kids not knowing how to build Legos, but instead they also eliminated the opportunities for creative expression.”

This really hit home for me, because I was really into Legos as a kid and my son is really into Legos. I decided to run a little experiment—mostly for my own curiosity. I decided to see what would happen if I gave him the same Lego set twice and had him build it once with the instructions and once without. First, this is what happened when Vaughn had the Lego instructions (fyi–the videos have no audio):


I thought that, when I gave him the set without the instructions, he would try to copy what he had done when he had the instructions. But instead, after suspiciously confirming that he could build whatever he wanted, here is what happened…


Note that throughout the time he was building without the instructions, he was also playing. Note that he is making sounds (though there is no audio, you can clearly see he’s making the requisite “boom” and “fffffsssshhhhh” sounds a six year old makes), talking more, smiling. He’s exploring. He’s enjoying himself.

Building Legos without instructions may have seemed harder or daunting at first, but instead it opened up space for his creativity. Not-yetness—not specifying outcomes, not predicting what he would or should do, not outlining each step—opened up space for play and for the three really cool ships he built.

I know that my highly scientific experiment may not work for everyone, but what you see in these videos is one reason why we argue for not-yetness. Because of the play, the fun, the opportunity in complexity and not-yetness. The ill-defined, the un-prescribed, the messy can lead to the unexpected, the joyful. Noel Gough (2012) writes, “complexity invites us to understand that many of the processes and activities that shape the worlds we inhabit are open, recursive, organic, nonlinear and emergent. It also invites us to be skeptical of mechanistic and reductionist explanations, which assume that these processes and activities are linear, deterministic and/or predictable and, therefore, that they can be controlled (at least in principle).”

Open, recursive, organic, nonlinear…these things say to me that we can have learning that is unpredictable, fun, emergent, organic, freeing, co-developed, co-experienced, complex, deep, meaningful.

So as I looked for projects that embodied not-yetness, I kept these concepts, and my son’s Lego adventure, in mind. In my next blog post, I’ll share those examples. Stay tuned!"

[Follow-up post: ]
amycollier  via:steelemaley  messiness  unschooling  learning  emergent  emergence  emergentcurriculum  2015  lego  not-yetness  gardnercampbell  edtech  noelgough  pedagogy  instructions  directinstruction  mikecaulfield  brentdavis  dennissumara  complexity  curriculum  tcsnmy  howwelearn  howweteach  online  web  georgeveletsianos  emergenttechnologies  technology  simplification  efficiency  quantification  measurement  cv  hamishmacleod  clarao'shea  sianbayne  randybass  open  openness  jenross  criticalpedagogy  recursion  spiraling  rhizomaticlearning  nonlinear  deschooling  meaningmaking  understanding  depth  unpredictability  unfinished  behavior  power  responsibility  sustainability  reach  contact  lcproject  openstudioproject  teaching  education  schools  cocreation  non-linear  alinear  linearity 
december 2015 by robertogreco The Glass Box And The Commonplace Book [If you are looking at this, you are looking at my commonpace book—Delicious.]
"“commonplacing,”...transcribing interesting/inspirational passages from reading, assembling personalized encyclopedia of quotes...central tension btwn order & chaos, btwn desire for methodical arrangement, & desire for surprising new links of association...rereading of commonplace book becomes new kind of revelation...holds promise that some long-forgotten hunch will connect in new way w/some emerging obsession...words could be copied, re-arranged, put to surprising new uses in surprising new contexts. By stitching together passages written by multiple authors, w/out explicit permission/consultation, new awareness could take shape...connective power of web is stronger than filtering...partisan blogs usually 1 click away from opposites...[in] print or f2f groups [leap to] opposing point of view...rarer...reason web works wonderfully...leads common places, not glass boxes...journalists, educators, publishers, software devs, & readers—keep those connections alive."
hunches  stevenjohnson  ipad  books  print  web  google  search  connections  commonplacebooks  johnlocke  thomasjefferson  notetaking  quotations  quotecollections  cv  howwework  connectivism  recursion  history  creativity  copyright  context  connectivity  hypertext  internet  journalism  language  literature  media  reading  writing  technology  research  2010  drm  education  learning  patterns  patternrecognition  revelation 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Ethan Hein’s metablog » Social bookmarking is delicious
"The most practically useful thing on the whole entire social web is Delicious. Its original point was to store your web browser bookmarks online. That’s reason enough to use it. But the real value of Delicious is how it connects the thoughts in your head to the thoughts in the heads of innumerable internet strangers. Even more useful is the way it stores, reorganizes and reflects your own thoughts back to you. Delicious feels less like a web site I look at and more like a new module of my brain. It’s also like a slow-paced but highly absorbing text-based computer game, a loosely organized internet scavenger hunt." ... "Flickr is the second most useful site on the social web. It shares many of Delicious’ best qualities, like tagging and the rich inspiration of other users. Here are my Flickr items tagged with Delicious. After looking at my Turing tag on Delicious, my next move would be to take a look at my Turing tag on Flickr."  flickr  folksonomy  tagging  tags  socialbookmarking  blogging  memes  learning  recursion  via:preoccupations 
november 2008 by robertogreco
box vox: Droste Effect Packaging
"These packages each include a picture of the package itself, are often cited by writers discussing such pop-math-arcana as recursion, strange loops, self-similarity, and fractals. This particular phenomenon, known as the “Droste effect,” is named aft
advertising  branding  math  recursion  marketing  droste  via:kottke  packaging  infinity  design 
april 2008 by robertogreco

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