Serendipity at EDEN

I’m in Rome, Italy and will travel to Naples this week for the EDEN Conference. The theme this year is New Learning 2.0. I quickly calculated that about 50 of the 200 submitted papers have something to do with Web 2.0, tagging, blogs, folksomonies and wikis. On the plane I saw a CNN program called Global Office, dealing with social networking sites and the Web 2.0 phenomena. It looks like we are approaching general awareness of social technologies.

My keynote presentation will open the conference on 14th of June. I will talk about Serendipity 2.0, missing third places of learning. We have to consider five things:

  • the role of physical spaces in relation to social interaction technologies. Especially spaces that exist out of the reach of formal structures
  • the balance between centralization/decentralization and hierarchies/networks
  • importance of lateral ties among people (non-linearity) in linear processes. Many problems in linear processes can be traced back to problems in sense making
  • formal and informal, serendipity and zemblanity, practice and process. What is the right mix?
  • how we shape our tools and how the tools then shape us

Internet is like an electric lamp. When the lamp was invented, it casted light to new spaces for people to be in, to interact with and to work in. In a similar way, the internet is creating new spaces for people to be in that were not previously available. Just as the electric lamp transformed our society and shaped us, so will the internet. The technology does nothing on its own. It’s what people do with the technology that transforms us.

But changes in structure and form are meaningless without corresponding changes in pedagogy. Slow pedagogy (similar to fast and slow food) counters the current culture of acceleration, giving learners time to reflect, to introspect, to argue and to enjoy.

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