Simon Buckingham Shum talking about Knowledge Mapping

October 31, 2007

Originally uploaded by openlearn2007

Simon Buckingham Shum

Knowledge Mapping in Open Sensemaking communities

The room is extremely hot after the initial talk. Many people are obviously very interested in this talk as the room is still pretty crowded.

Simon starts by talking about how we can change the way people think through visualisation and shows some photos taken from space to illustrate how people’s way of visualising the earth has changed.

He begins with the view of the earth from space, then a satellite view of the earth opened out, then a google earth image, then a London Underground map on FlickR where people can post their photos and link them to a place on the map. HE describes this as a collaboration platform – neat.

He then moves on to talking about how geographical maps help open new possibilities for collective attention – how they can mediate the inner mental world and outer physical world and overlay meanings onto that world. Interesting. I love maps but had never thought about them in such a detailed way.

He now moves onto talk about open sensemaking communities.

Open to people and perspectives. I wonder if this OCHRE blog could be thought of as a sensemaking community now that several people are all contributing to it and getting comments from others.

Sensemaking – interpreting, patterning, redressing surprise, externalising undetstanding, constructing plausible narratives about the world (weick 1995)

Communities – of learners or analysts, predefined or emergent communities.

He now shows a map showing visualization of trends in literature on terrorism, with blobs on the map linked to each other and through to further concepts. So…mapping can be seen as an intrinsic part of personal and collective sensemaking. The map he just showed gave no information about the relationship between the papers linked to the location. I think he is setting the scene here for demonstrating how compendium supports the cumulative addition of contributions from others and in provoking, mediating, capturing and improving constructive discourse. He makes the final point that maps are narratives – and suggests that it is important to make contributions to that narrative.

He’s now quickly going through all the different types of map, mind maps, argument maps etc.

He now moves onto the various ways they’ve been using Compendium and how many downloads (about 113 per month mostly from outside the OU). Very small numbers are downloading the maps with presumably the intent to remix. Uploads are even smaller so people aren’t yet sharing their maps. Over the coming year they plan to survey people to see what they’re doing privately even if they’re not sharing it. Well, I’ve been trying to use Compendium to foreground the learning links between my informal learners who use GPS devices to hide and find geocaches – that’s probably a bit unusual. I would be nice to get some idea of what others have thought of to do. Simon says that some people are using it as a personal planning tool, or as teams to embed resources that they can then all access. Also talks about a dialogue map to create a disagreement space with a student. Somebody else has used compendium to map a collaborative wiki activity analysing a pop song. Very creative.

Next Steps – Compendium is currently a standalone desktop tool but people are currently trying to put it on the web so that it can be a more distributed collaborative tool. Conzilla now supports dialogue mapping for example,

He moves on to other ways in which compendium can be used to support collaborative information sharing. You can apparently load your delicious tags into it – there is a picture of a tag clough, but I’m a bit unsure how the connections work.

CoHere Connection Net – this looks really interesting.
He’s got the tag cloud, and he’s making a connection between a tag in the cloud and a concept in the left panel of a screen called cohere. He seems to be explaining that this will help people negotiate meaning, like if I think of something as an obstacle I can link it as such, but somebody else may view it differently. Looks interesting but I’d need to play with it I think to fully understand it.

Wow, he’d just displayed a rather dynamic looking network of ideas which seems to be rotating in three dimensions rather like the old navihedron from back in 2002. I’d like to see this in more detail but unfortunately the demo just crashed.

You can apparently embed Cohere snippets in many different other applications. This looks really powerful. He’s got a book coming out next year – Knowledge Cartography where ideas of many specialists in Knowledge Cartography are gathered together. I’d like to see that.

Questions: When can we use Cohere?
Answer: There is an alpha account and need to email Simon to gain access. Hmm, may try that.

Question: What user evaluations have you done and what have you found. It seems predominantly a mechanism to represent arguments rather than construct them. Can it be used to construct?
Answer: Have just finished piloting with 15 year old gifted and talented kids at summer school to get their ideas on, say, global warming. Seems to work well – once they understand how to construct an argument – dialogue mapping needs to be evidence based. They’ve evaluated Compendium in many situations, but specifically in learning, have used it in meetings and it has come out very well. Also work on the value of argument mapping with students. No simple answer because whether or not you get a significant effect depends on students ability, their literacy with maps and how long it takes them to become fluent with these things because it is no good to just give them the tool and expect them to know how to use it. Also, teenagers may not want to argue with each other .Whole bunch of affective factors. No simple story to say argument mapping improves you reasoning.

Another member of audience tells that at Sidney uni they used it in a range of apps and the most powerful students found was in doing their assignments. Also, at every weekly course they gave the students a cumulative concept map and they found it very powerful to see how this thing was growing each week and the context in which they were learning.

Question: One questioner grappling with the distinction between information and knowledge. Sometimes the map seems to contain info, sometimes knowledge. Wonders whether in mapping activities that learners do, is there a transition between knowing the linkage between papers (information) to the step where they know they are linked but they also understand WHY they are linked (knowledge.
Answer: Most educators haven’t got around to asking for a concept map to evaluate – usually just a written narrative, so need to look at whether a good argument map leads to a good written narrative. Also need to ask why do we have to linearise our arguments which may not be linear in order to write scientific papers. Some markers are now marking concept maps. It has affordances that blobs of text do not have. You can put your finger on an argument in an argument map.


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