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13 November 2011 / erikduval

Change 11: Learning in Times of Abundance

The coming week, I will be ‘facilitating’ a #change 11 session on ‘learning in time of abundance’…

I put ‘facilitating’ between quotes, because I am not completely sure what will happen or what I’m supposed to do – kind of like what often happens to me in Real Life too 😉 … As in most courses I ‘teach’, I expect that I will be the one who learns most…

What I mean with the term abundance is that, for most of us, we now live in a world of plenty, mostly as a consequence of Moore’s law and its many variations regarding processing power, memory capacity, network connections, etc.

  1. One result is that we are now more connected than ever before.
    • We are connected to the digital networks, with bandwidth available virtually everywhere.
    • We are connected to information, to the extent that it has become as much a problem as an affordance in the form of information overload or filter failure.
    • We are connected to one another, through email (40 years old), mobile messaging, and of course social media.
    • We are connected to all sorts of things, sensors that can track much of what we do, in a quantified self kind of way (see also the Copenhagen Wheel, the jawbone up, runkeeper, etc.).
  2. Secondly, these connections offer us opportunities to be much more open and transparent in how we live and work and learn. This has obvious consequences for how we do research: think open access, but also much more radical open science or science2.0 tools and initiatives.
  3. The third effect that I see is that it has turned our world into one which is ‘always on’. Think of the #change 11 experience itself: there is no obvious start or end the way that used to be the case when we had ‘classes’. Learning happens all the time, kind of everywhere (including, of course, twitter and facebook, if you want to start exploring).
In this week, I’d like to explore how this abundance and the ‘connected, open and always on‘ world it has created influences what and how we learn and teach. If our students will live in an even much more abundant world (Moore’s law is exponential!), then we need to prepare them to leverage that abundance – we should certainly not exclude it from our classrooms!
Really big caveat: of course, all of this abundance talk is only relevant to us who are the privileged few, who do not need to worry about where we will sleep this evening, or how we will feed our children…
OK – off we go: looking forward to learn with you all!


Leave a Comment
  1. suifaijohnmak / Nov 14 2011 12:20 am

    Great summary Erik. What do you see are the major challenges for (a) learners, (b) teachers, (c) course or instructional designers, and (d) administrators when learning with this time of abundance? What teaching/learning strategies would we need to consider and adopt in preparing them to leverage that abundance (of connections, information, things, social media, networks and communities etc.), inside and outside class?

    • Paul / Nov 14 2011 5:27 pm

      I would like to add librarians to John’s list. I meet so many people who say that we are on the road to obsolescence because “everything’s online.” Some of my colleagues say that the age of abundance makes librarians’ navigational and organizational skills more necessary than ever, but I don’t see many people asking for help.

  2. Malcolm Lewis (@lewismal) / Nov 14 2011 7:13 am

    Thanks for setting up for post scarcity #change11 week. Nice intro. For me, the key driver of super abundance of info is we produce info digitally and thus share it digitally.

    Digital info can be copied and copied again without degrading the info. You can’t do that on a photocopier. The implication of this is that it is easy and free to share. This means there is a lot or info out there for low cost or no cost. People give their work away, as it bring benefits to them.

    In my own field of health, there are apparently 7000 new clinically relevant reports and papers produced every day. Many are still behind pay walls but that is ending. Significantly if the info is good, someone will summarize it, comment on and share it, for free, in some form in a short time. Pay wall no longer work. New knowledge becomes available for free. If we did not produce documents in a digital form, it would take longer to share and cost far more. Less would be shared. There would be less info abundance.

    @palbion taught me that when the printing press was invented, books were rare and expensive. New books were not creating very often. It made sense to gather them and the experts who had read many of them in one place, like a university. These experts, helped guide learners through the knowledge. Knowledge changed slowly. A person could become an expert.

    Contracts the past with digital info age. Knowledge is cheap, is everywhere, and is constantly changing. New knowledge becomes old and out of data faster than ever. There is so much knowledge and it changes so fast, that experts, are not what they were.

    All this has been driven by the digital format in a few decades.



  3. erikduval / Nov 14 2011 5:23 pm

    We will have a live #change11 session at 5pm Belgian time, 4pm UK time at

    Hope to see and hear some of you ‘there’…

  4. Asif / Nov 14 2011 6:36 pm

    Hi Erik,

    My questions are:

    1) Where are the limits to abundance?

    The Moore’s Law page you reference on Wikipedia includes the following:

    Moore’s law describes a long-term trend in the history of computing hardware: the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years.This trend has continued for more than half a century. 2005 sources expected it to continue until at least 2015 or 2020.

    **However, the 2010 update to the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors has growth slowing at the end of 2013, after which time transistor counts and densities are to double only every 3 years**.

    No natural systems that I know of function on a model of infinite growth — life cycles include decay and extinction.

    2) When does abundance become over-abundance?

    We are in the process of watching the corporate model of infinite growth starting to be challenged/crumble.

    As the Occupy movement shows us, abundance for some comes at the expense of scarcity for others.

    In terms of information/connection abundance, we see the tendency for companies which start-up by offering free tools to, at a certain moment of critical mass, begin to restrict/monetize/premium-ize their services for pay — in an economics supply/demand-type equation. Can we not envision this happening in the online learning world too?

  5. Claudia L'Amoreaux (@ClaudiaInWorld) / Nov 14 2011 8:10 pm

    Erik, you mentioned pulling some slides from your Slideshare of some learning dashboards students have created. Would love to see those….Thanks for flipping overload to abundance, and putting the focus on the filters as in one of your closing comments in today’s Collaborate session….”It’s not information overload, it’s filter failure.” #change11

  6. erikduval / Nov 14 2011 11:52 pm

    The recording of the session is now available at

    My challenges for this week:

    – any examples you find inspiring about how teachers or students leverage abundance for learning?
    – any examples you can identify or think of where openness would be more of a problem than an opportunity?

    Many thanks for all the great input so far!

    • serenaturri / Nov 22 2011 12:58 pm

      Hi Erik,
      My attempt to respond to the challenge here:

    • lucky / Nov 27 2011 6:50 pm

      Thanks for a great session Erik,

      Here is my late attempt at your challenge

      1. Any examples you find inspiring about how teachers or students leverage abundance for learning?

      In a country where learning materials are hard to come by (Somalia/Somaliland), teachers and students are both learning together, assisted by free online course materials. Materials are evaluated together as assignments on how these can be improved, mixed, and rehashed into something personal and relevant.

      2. Any examples you can identify or think of where openness would be more of a problem than an opportunity?

      Openness is always an opportunity if we can navigate through:

       Acquiring the right judgment to make useful connections and networks.

       The difficulty of trying to filter through all the online content (noise) and finding something useful

       Concentrating on the task at hand and not being waylaid or distracted by the abundance. That is: trying to use your time carefully – time management with all the choices

       The idea of exponential knowledge development 24/7 and ramifications of that. In addition to understanding the relevance of what we learn right here and now, in an evolving knowledge base.

       Developing different strategies/filters to deal with abundance

      Do any of the above ring true? Or are they just a beginner’s fear

  7. suifaijohnmak / Nov 15 2011 6:10 am

    Hi Erik,
    My attempt to respond to the challenge – your question 2 here I still haven’t finished listening to the whole audio, but in you 10 minutes, you have summarised the essence well. Is ongoing connectedness that good? May be, for some. I reckon I feel more connected virtually! Is Moore’s Law still relevant? Yes, I agreed. @Paul, thanks, and yes we should include the concerns of librarians.
    @Malcolm, there are tensions between paid walls & OER, and so this knowledge is cheap is only “true” if the OER is gradually opening up.
    Thanks Erik,


  1. GT MOOC Week 10: Learning in Times of Abundance by Erik Duvall | The Georgia Tech MOOC
  2. Information abundance and learning « Jenny Connected
  3. A central place #change11, lost in chaos? Or a rhizome? « connectiv
  4. The Tyranny of Sharing « Jenny Connected
  5. #Change11 Engagement, Sharing and Learning in Times of Abundance Part 1 | Learner Weblog
  6. Erik Duval – Abundance: more tools, more access and more choices #change11 « LEARNING RETENTION
  7. Size, scale and #Change11 MOOC « connectiv

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