Clients remixable content

Bill Brantley describes How education/training has changed in the last three years for him.

[Students and clients] want living documents that link to more information, easy to pass-along, and can be cut-and-pasted into other documents.  ...  No longer should knowledge stand alone but it should be linked to other bits of knowledge and reshuffled as the occasion warrants.  They want Wikipedia-type living documents and not Encyclopedia Britannica-type of fixed, bulky pile of dead paper.

People want to be able to remix their content, no matter what the source.  (One reason why Facebook is getting some haters while it is drawing people at the same time.)

I see it in what I demand from my service providers.  I see it in what my clients request.  And I can definitely see this in the class I teach at Northwestern.  It's been both exciting and frustrating.  I can provide the latest details via delicious tags or via my blog.  Of course, I am not perfect in my class design either.  Had a discussion today with the department chair about rethinking the class and creating a better "story arc" for the ten weeks.

5 Comment(s)

Tammy said:

I'm curious about the results of your course planning. Let me in on it!

Hello, Jack,

Since the topic is "client remixable content," and since you are in re-thinking mode, here are some ideas that might interest you.

Joseph D. Novak, Emeritus, Cornell University, has proposed a New Model of Education centered on the use of "skeleton expert concept maps." These expert maps provide students with an instructor-created concept map that includes the top-level organizing concepts, and 5-10 key sub-concepts, for the body of knowledge the course addresses.

Novak's research in science education indicates that providing students with the top-level organizing concepts, e.g., "everything in the universe is composed of matter and energy," "matter can be converted to energy," "all matter is composed of molecules," resulted in long-term learning gains that continued to outpace the achievement of the control group. Providing the top-level "organizers" enables students to make sense, extend the knowledge and build meaning.

It's a "deep constructivist" model rooted in David Ausubel's theory of meaningful learning. Students extend the skeleton expert map by adding: new concepts, new subconcept maps, cross links between concepts, and digital knowledge resources - documents, reports, web pages/wikis, podcasts, video clips, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations.

I also worked with Scardamalia and Bereiter for a number of years when I was at Apple and find their work in "distributed knowledge" very compelling. It's a concept that works well with Novak's model. Students can build out different parts of the skeleton model - developing deep knowledge in one area and then reviewing the work of others to gain breadth.

I am using this model in my consulting work with the New Teacher Alliance project of the Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession, funded by the Paul G. Allen Family Fd. and the Gates Fd. here in WA State. I created a skeleton expert map of the "standards and elements" needed for successful teacher induction. CSTP's project partners are extending the concept map and adding their work products to the appropriate concept nodes/elements.

If this interests you, I'd be happy to provide some assistance on a pro bono basis. If you find it useful, I'd appreciate it if you would share your experience in your blog.

You may wish to explore:

The CmapToolsTM client is free. You can download at:

Here's a blog post of mine discussing concept maps as cognitive scaffolds in the context of work I did for another client.

I'll send you a couple articles via email later today.

BTW, I tried several times this morning to subscribe to your blog feed, but when I hit "Submit" the browser just kept turning and nothing happened.

P.S. Concept maps on servers can be turned into web pages with a one click. So, after appropriate review, the fleshed out concept map would give your students' work a web presence.

Vic said:


In light of SoundKnowledge's comment I just want to mention that, while to educational users, CMAP is still free, others will have to buy it from Ceryph (they call it Insight) at $200 a pop.

I ran across The National Science Digital Library Concept Maps for Science and Mathematics Education a few months ago. These are amazing resources (even to those who, like myself, are not in the education field).

I wondered if that site was prompted by Novak's work?

The master list of mind mapping &
information management software

I too am a strong believer in the need for an ability to remix content. To me, that means chunks of information need to be oriented towards, as objects, and representations (models) of these objects need to be reusable 'from any perspective'. Not (at all) necessarily at the group/browser level, but at the personal level. If people/students want to share, then and nó sooner is there a necessity to adapt their individual representations to make them shareable. For in the beginning of a studying session, each pupil will want to use his very own representations to make things meaningful and connect what he has to learn to what he already knows.

Anyway, that is my own experience and the main reason for a long personal quest for the best tool around for this purpose.

jackvinson Author Profile Page said:

I too have been wondering about a "best tool" for this kind of thing. But then sometimes I wonder if there isn't such a beast. It has to be a decent set of tools combined with good understanding of what the tools are supposed to do (for the company). And finally, the people (the "users") need to have some skill with the remixing for their own purposes.

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