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Tag: social-media

Open, with care… and vulnerability.

My enquiry into what exactly the notion of open and openness entails seems to almost have taken me back to the starting point, the starting point not only of this particular chapter of enquiry but also to the starting point of my own initiation into open online learning and learning in the open. That’s because caring and vulnerability has been the theme taken up this week in Networked Scholars. Although I’ve already highlighted vulnerability as being, for me, a key aspect of being an open learner,

a way to engage in learning that acknowledges the vulnerability and risk that’s inherent and asks the learner to recognize and embrace this,

it was interesting to consider vulnerability yet more closely and an absolute privilege and a delight to have Bonnie Stewart share her thoughts on the topic.

In a powerful and searingly honest ‘live chat‘, Bonnie outlined the deeply personal circumstances in which her blog and was initiated, identifying the move as displaying vulnerability with agency. To me, that phrase, vulnerability with agency, seems to capture what’s at the heart of networks and learning in the open and as such, it begs the question how do educators bring learners to such a position, and by encouraging them to participate in this way what might they be asking them to assert and what might they be asking them to risk? Not easy.

It was interesting therefore to come across an article from ALT’s July newsletter entitled ‘Social media in education: ethical concerns‘ in which HE educators discussed these issues. A primary concern was that of online harassment. Of course I’ve heard of internet trolls and cyber-bullying, and I know that women are not fairly represented or treated in certain fields, but I hadn’t really stopped to consider any of this in great detail, not until now that is. Not until I was confronted as part of this week’s discussion with Kathy Sierra’s recent revelations about the harrowing experiences she’s had to endure online. Horrendous. When you’ve had nothing but positive experiences using a social networking tool such as Twitter, it’s an uncomfortable truth to realize that, for all it’s good, it’s also a hate amplifier.

The purpose of this week’s topic in #scholar14 was to consider that social media and online networks are not neutral and that, for better or worse, social media reflects society. So far, I’ve explored how online social networks function as places where scholars can agencially make themselves vulnerable but where they might also be exposed to the darker side of humanity. Thankfully, online social networks also function as places where scholars may express and experience care: support or mutuality, if you will.

open with care 1
Open with care.

As the saying goes ‘sharing is caring‘, and a culture of sharing it seems is increasingly becoming the norm online. It’s argued that open practices reflect a form of caring, and that such a culture of sharing or giving without expectation of anything in return potentially leads to the development of ‘gift economies‘ or a series of relationships that depend on meaningful collaborations and pay-it-forward interactions. I can certainly vouch for this: people sharing status updates and links, taking the time to comment on blog posts, cooperating in open online courses, collaborating in research projects and, in the case of POTCert, paying it forward. As a case in point, I think POTCert (Programme for Online Teaching) deserves a special mention, not only because it’s where I was initiated into open online learning but because it functions as a type of gift economy and exemplifies the altruistic culture of sharing outlined above. POTCert is a free, open, online class aimed at those who wish to teach online. It was was founded at MiraCosta College, San Diego and is run by run by a volunteer faculty group with its alumni ‘paying it forward’ each semester in the form of mentoring and/or moderating etc. Respect due.

Resources: in order to add more context to Bonnie Stewart’s live chat, here are the links to further resources.

Networks of Care and Vulnerability [blog] http://theory.cribchronicles.com/2014/11/04/networks-of-care-and-vulnerability/

Networked Identity: Networks of Care and Vulnerability http://www.slideshare.net/bonstewart/networks-of-care-vulnerability?utm_content=bufferf1a8c&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Networked Scholars Expert Chat with Bonnie Stewart [Youtube] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6xTyDar9Jw

Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corrugated_box_design

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POT Cert Week 8: creating community, plus a whole lot more, with Twitter.

This week, to develop the topic of building community, POT Cert continued to read Ko and Rossen, Chapter 6: Building an Online Classroom, and went on to consider the actuality of using technology to build such community. Considered technologies included not only the LMS, but a range of synchronous and audio technologies. Further reading was also indicated with Envisioning the post-LMS Era: The Open Learning Network (Mott, 2010), and it’s Mott’s article, together with the technology of Twitter, that I wish to expand upon in this post.

Twitter can be used to form connections and to create community, and as I mentioned in my post last week, it can be used as a tool for professional development and as a tool for teaching and learning. In contrast to the concept of learning within a “walled” LMS, Twitter fits well with the notion of open learning and with the idea of learning as actualised through a personal learning environment [PLE]. Moves away from the LMS are being mooted because patterns of usage suggest they’re primarily being used for the purpose of administrative efficiency rather than as a platform for substantive teaching and learning activities. A PLE, as opposed to the “vertically integrated and institutionally centralized” LMS, combines small pieces of the open web to create connections for learning “free of the arbitrary constraints of matter, distance, and time” (Weinberger, 2002). Twitter can be one such piece within a PLE, or indeed be adjunct to a LMS based course.

Within this conception, Twitter can be used equally to facilitate and/or support learning: provisioning student-faculty connection, helping create a sense of community, assisting the discovery of relevant and up to date content, enhancing student engagement and connecting students and faculty alike with professional communities of practice (Dunlap and Lowenthal, 2009 and Ebner et al., 2010).

Admittedly, to anyone who’s never tried it Twitter appears frivolous and a distraction from “real work”, never mind to have any serious pedagogical properties. This is so wrong!

Let me show you how I began to realise the power of Twitter.

Yes, that’s frivolous alright!
But hang on, @timbuckteeth is Prof. Steve Wheeler.
Why’s he off to Budapest?
Research workshop?
Result!!
Hyper-link to first report on the EDEN workshop.
European Distance and eLearning Network.

Here we can see that a 140 character “tweet” not only allows something very specific to be communicated but, with the insertion of a shortened hyper-link, permits the dissemination of detailed information. What’s more, it also acts as a mechanism through which individuals can create a “peephole” for others to gain an insight into everyday events and discover what’s inviting attention. So, self-disclosure of this nature, rather than simply being seen as a stream of mundane status updates, can be seen as a series of posts that represent an invitation to get to know the individual user and take part in interpreting their events (Oulasvirta, et al., 2010). This is probably what gives Twitter its trivial and lightweight image, but it is this very aspect that makes it so powerful for making connections and creating community.

Below are a selection of articles that hopefully will help to show how Twitter can be used to develop a personal learning network [PLN], connect with professional communities of practice and create a sense of community to leverage learning within an online class.

However before that, just a reminder that the hashtag for the Program for Online Teaching is #potcert, and to say that I’ve also started to create a list of POT Certers that are on Twitter.

  • Horton Hears a Tweet: in this article Dunlap and Lowenthal (2009) explain how Twitter can enhance students’ experience in the online-education setting and attest that through microblogging and social networking activities facilitated by Twitter students and lecturers alike can build personal learning networks (PLNs) and as a result participate in professional communities of practice.
  • Twitteracy: very recent research paper that positions Twitter as a new literacy practice that promotes student engagement and improves learning.
  • Twitter hashtags in the classroom: blog post from George Couros explaining how he uses Twitter hashtags to connect to educators around the world and how hashtags can be used with classes to create community and leverage learning.

 References:

Weinberger, D. (2002) Small Pieces Loosely Joined. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books

Dunlap, J.C. and Lowenthal, P. R. (2009). Horton Hears a Tweet. Educause Quarterly, 32 (4).

Ebner, M., Lienhardt, C., Rohs, M. and Meyer, I. (2010) Microblogs in Higher Education – A chance to facilitate informal and process-oriented learning? Computers & Education, 55(1), pp. 92-100.

Oulasvirta, A., Lehtonen, E., Kurvinen, E. and Raento, M. (2010) Making the ordinary visible in microblogs. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing. Online first. Special issue on Social Interaction and Mundane Technologies. 14, pp. 237-249.

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