Mindset Middleware

After reading @mfeldstein’s EDUCAUSE NGDLE and an API of One’s Own and @holden’s LEGOs response, I’m inspired to also comment on what is fast becoming an encyclopedic conversation, so filled with ed-tech insider history and acronyms to be understandable only to very few, yet pertinent to so many.

I’m 100% behind the goals laid out in these posts, along with the questions and efforts they reference from the likes of @drtonybates and @jimgroom. But…reading it all up to @holden’s last part:

But until users can see the relationship between their app-adopting behavior and their larger situation I’m not sure I see solutions like this in the near future. I’ll continue to promote and work on such solutions, because that’s where the potential is. But it’s the cultural issue that needs solving, and I’m still working out how we overcome that.

I’m left realizing that the conversation here is still mostly about technologies, and solutions, mostly about new somethings that will make a healthy, lasting transformation.

I think the solutions called for here are good, but history is rife with new somethings that have healthy generative capacity and effects, from TCP/IP to representative democracy, and yet go on to become standardized LEGO kits. Today’s emergent generative potential becomes tomorrow’s dominant structure.

Maybe the cultural shift @holden seeks is for us to realize and start holding ourselves to the idea that there are no solutions. As awesome as LMOS, a domain of one’s own, or federated wiki may be, their lasting transformative value is not intrinsic, but in that they are manifestations of people enacting @amcollier‘s not-yetness. It is that attitude of not-yetness that we should work to persist, by whatever local, timely means work.

So when it comes to education (that interest links us right?), our goal is to instill lasting mindsets that seek to dismantle dominant LEGO sets and make new things, reforming the standard bits and adding unexpected parts. The solution is not a something (LMOS, domain, wiki, API), it’s the cultural practices that led to those somethings. Today, enabling a student via a federated wiki at their own domain may be empowering them mightily, but not if they or we believe our work is then done.

The minute we think our something is the solution, we’ve already started becoming the next standardized LEGO kit. The insoluble solution is that the solution is insoluble.

Posted by Nate Angell

Wandering IQ. Raised by wolves. Friend to cheese. Working to bend the arc of justice. Learn more about my professional and educational history on LinkedIn and on this blog, or if you really want to get to know me, follow me on Twitter.

One Reply to “Mindset Middleware”

  1. So sure, there is no “one” solution. But there are some common elements that many people have been identifying for a long time that preserve “notyetness” (oh christ, another neologism, really?) I could catalogue them but instead I’ll just point to Stephen’s 2006 paper http://www.downes.ca/post/36031 which does as good a job as any describing the necessary conditions.

    BUT…incumbency. It’s not forever, but it is real. Philosopher’s live in an ideal world, software lives in a material, economic one. So yeah, don’t expect a single solution to be the end all, but do realize that they are hard to displace once they become entrenched and entangled with other hard to change systems.

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