Tag Archives: e-learning

Learning to become

Another fine paper from Ulises Mejias: A Nomad’s Guide to Learning and Social Software. (Thanks to Will Richardson for the link) His insights on the cultural working out of social software technology is as astute as usual and his framework is superb:

At a more fundamental level, models of learning based on social software can facilitate the shift from what Brown and Duguid (2000) call learning about to learning to be, or to give a more Deleuzian connotation, to learning as becoming. Learning about implies a passive consumption of knowledge in the form of facts. Learning to be implies the application of knowledge in the development of skills that allows us to fulfill a particular (professional or non-professional) role in society. But to highlight the fact that being is not static, I’m using learning as becoming to signify an ongoing process. Learning, as constant becoming, is the work of nomads, to use another Deleuzian image explained below by Semetsky (2004):

“Nomads must continuously readapt themselves to the open-ended world in which even the line of horizon may be affected by the changing conditions of wind, shifting sands or storms so that no single rule of knowing that [learning about] would ever assist nomads in their navigations, perhaps only knowing how [learning to be, or learning as becoming] would” (Semetsky 2004:447, italics in original; my additions in brackets).

Semetsky continues by quoting Casey. ‘The local operations of relay must be oriented by the discovery (and often continual rediscovery) of direction (Casey 1997:306)’. Becoming, as this continual rediscovery of direction, takes place in relation to the world and to others. What social software can do is to help us re-situate learning in an open-ended social context, providing opportunities for moving beyond the mere accessing of content (learning about) to the social application of knowledge in a constant process of re-orientation (learning as becoming).

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Grab-bag

An interesting grab bag of links and thoughts from a morning of blog surfing:Interesting quote about authorship as the “unfolding action of a discourse” posted by Clancy Ratliff in an abstract she’s submitting to a conference:

Lunsford (1999) takes up these critiques of authorship and calls for new ways of thinking “a view of agency as residing in what Susan West defines as the “unfolding action of a discourse; in the knowing and telling of the attentive rhetor/responder rather than in static original ideas” (as cited in Lunsford, 1999, p. 185-186). Lunsford argues for “owning up” rather than owning, agency in “answerability,” and a view of self as always in relation to others.This presenter will bring these ideas to bear on weblogging communities and practices.

Dana Boyd posts about a young Live Journal user being visited by the secret service after posting a satirical anti-Bush post. anniesj, the LJ user posts a very detailed a thoughtful description of the incident on her journal page.It appears that she was dobbed into the FBI by another Live Journal user. So much for the solidarity of the blogsphere.Boyd goes on to note the difficulties in notions such as sousveillance (surveillance from below):

People often ask me why i’m opposed to sousveillance. I believe that giving everyone the right to surveillance will not challenge those in power who have such ability. I believe that it will legitimize them. Furthermore, i believe that people will use the power of surveillance to maintain the status quo. Worse, i believe that it will be used to create more hate, distrust and fear. Sousveillance in the hands of the masses will not be used to challenge authority because most people believe in the legitimacy of that authority, whether it be corporations or the government.

Good post on the need for “conceptual clarification” in fields like education by Sebastian Fiedler at seblogging:

In my humble opinion fields that deal with human affairs like education, often benefit more from thorough conceptual analysis than empirical studies, especially if the latter are simply trying to simulate natural science methodology.

The push for empirical evaluation of teaching and learning seems to be matched by what Fiedler would call foggy concepts. The classic case is the deep versus surface learning model that is supposedly validated by years of study. Yet I think if you analyse a lot of the stuff based on this concept it translates to nothing more than foggy good versus foggy bad learning.If you look at the basic attributes of the model as presented in tables like this one you will see that it is a model which is neither conceptually cohesive or pedagogically useful. The attributes on both sides of the table move dramatically from strategic learning choices (memorisation of facts/looking for patterns) to underlying attitudes (see little relevance in course/becoming interested in course). It’s a psychological model that has no material basis and doesn’t stop to ask what else might be going on in student’s lives that cause them to see/look for relevance/interest in their courses (for example!)Stephen Downes points to this brilliant journalism education project. I-elect is an integrated web/print/broadcast election coverage project put together by the journalism students at University of Illinois. What makes it particularly interesting is that the election is covered from the point of view of college students and it includes a survey commissioned by the team.

I-ELECT is a multimedia political reporting project in conjunction with the University of Illinois College of Communications. The project was undertaken by students in a journalism class and has been overseen by Department of Journalism faculty.The group of students organized in a newsroom to produce print, online and broadcast products. The group also conducted a scientific survey to drive its reporting. The idea behind the project for students practicing journalism convergence, a skill that is becoming more necessary by the day. The Daily Illini, WPGU-FM 107.1, WILL-AM 580 and others have assisted with the project.

This seems to me to be a really interesting journalism education project because it involves- practical implementation of skills learned- it is student self directed- the reporting is to a specific audience- it is produced through multimedia- it uses a range of different journalism tools from poll data to human interest stories- it aims to have real-time impact through distribution in the university community- it could then become a model for reflective self evaluation and theory/practice discussions

Blogs versus discussion boards

James Framer at his new blog Incorporated Subversion has an excellent article:Communication dynamics: Discussion boards, weblogs and the development of communities of inquiry in online learning environments. His general conclusions fuel my doubts about the appropriateness of threaded discussions as effective learning forums. His notion that they support a very limited “social presence” is interesting in light of my thinking about blogs as personal publication spaces.

In terms of social presence this kind of discussion board could be seen to offer little opportunity for users to “project themselves socially and emotionally, as ‘real’ people” (Garrison & Anderson 2003) as the opportunity for projection is limited and when and if it is achieved, the ability of the projector to project and appear as a “real” person is also severely limited. For example, in a face-to-face context individuals are able to project themselves in many ways, primarily through verbal and physical contributions to the people present in the area. However, in a discussion board, as well as being limited to the ability to express themselves through text, users are unable to express themselves to people in the area because there may not be any people there. A contribution can be viewed and read by one person, the whole group or nobody and because how a writer understands the intended audience of their work dramatically impacts on their entire approach to the task of writing (Abdullah 2003), this uncertainty impacts considerably on the ability of the individual to project themselves….

In establishing cognitive presence, issues associated with the lack of any definable audience do not only affect the nature of the way in which an individual writes, but also the discourse possible and in this the ability of a writer to reflect on their thoughts and “construct and confirm” meaning.

Blogs on the other hand, he argues, contribute a significant sense of presence that potentially assists and motivates communication, discourse and learning:

In terms establishing social presence it can be argued that weblogs offer a significant opportunity for users to project themselves as “real” people. Primarily the blogger is writing to their own area and context, designed to their liking (if the blogger is not a web designer there are a wide range of templates available with every provider) and developing on their previous postings from the online persona they have developed. Indeed, the fact that the blogger is also able to retain ownership of their writing, edit at will, refer to previous items and ideas, and control in its entirety the space and manner in which the weblog is published, can significantly augment their control over their expression and hence increase the opportunity to project and the motivation for doing so.

He quotes research which indicates that weblogs encourage more in-depth wrtiting.

A weblog is a reflective medium (hence comparisons with and use as journals and diaries), and the nature of publishing to an audience in a manner that will be archived, can be referred to and for which the author maintains responsibility and ownership has developed a certain style of expression. Certain research (Herring et al. 2004) across the blogging spectrum has indicated that there is a possibility that weblogs encourage significantly more in-depth and extended writing than communication by email or through discussion board environments and yet less extensive than more formal modes of publication, producing in an academic sense a kind of discourse somewhere between the conversational and the article. The value of this is evidenced through numerous examples of academic weblogs taking advantage of weblogs in order to engage with their peers and students and to reflect on their own learning (e.g. PhDWeblogs, Crooked Timber).

Note: I discovered this article through another great web sharing device, that I am loving: Furl. Specifically by tracking the furl list of a bloger I like: Amy Gahran who writes about her own love of furl here.

Conversation and circulation

A great quote from John Kruper’s about page that sums up a lot about the e-learning and blogging process

The value of the Net doesn’t simply lie in the way it allows groups of people to talk with one another. It also comes from the way that, unlike telephones or video links, the Net can provide common objects for participants to observe, manipulate, and discuss. It’s not, then, simply a medium for conversation, nor is it just a delivery mechanism. It combines both, providing a medium for conversation and for circulating digital objects. Furthermore, it also allows participants to turn the ongoing conversation itself into another object of conversation for further reflection. Usually, educational technology tries to do one or another of these things. Ideally, it should combine all three.

From John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid, The Social Life of Information