As coming close to the end of this class, 597 Disruptive technology, I've seen myself actually trying to define the word community. So let's come to the basic question, what is community? I understand that every one has a slight definition on community, especially after reading the Wenger book and the class, that it's place where people gather. The reason for gathering can be different among individuals, it can be interest, or by some other reasons. However, I think that community doesn't always need to be interest related. The community can be a place where we gather for some different reason such as the same purpose and not need to correlate with others. However, it seems to get blurry when we come to the 'belonging' issue in the community. For example, in a bus, would this count as a community? I would say 'yes' where people have the purpose to go somewhere to take the same bus. Do they know and react with each other? this answer can be 'no'. Participating in the community depends on individuals, and many reasons can cause not to participate in the community. As a gamer, especially World of Warcraft, people engage in interesting conversations about quests, weapons, race (game character race) and even just normal real-life style conversations. If you can listen and observe to the conversations not everyone would participate in the conversation. Some will talk mostly some will listen. Within the community other community exist. And higher community can also have effects on other community. The meaning and purpose of the community can change according to the other community. What I want to point out here is that community itself seems to be social as a human being. Community itself can generate a new community and also oppress other community to change the value of it's community. The community works as a social, and can be considered as one. Almost close to humans. In this sense the community seems to be complicated as knowing what humans are. Therefore this semester, I've learned the value of community and what communities are, but also I learned it's same as humans when it comes to defining what it is.
April 2008 Archives
Over the semester, I have been refining my definition of identity. Similar to Twitter, which asks the question, "What are you doing?" to me, identity answers the question, "Who am I?" Luckily I don't have 140 characters or less to answer this question, but I did find one way of describing identity which might be short enough to define it in less than the required characters. In Betsy's entry To Be or Not to Be, she comments on identity as being our personal lens to the world. It reminded me of the glasses that Nicolas Cage finds and uses in National Treasure. His use of different lenses reveals different clues on the map. This thought implies that our identity is how we see ourselves in this world. It's our way of looking at the world. I want to expand upon this notion by defining on what I think creates that lens and ultimately shapes our identity.First, I have been pondering about the purpose of a name and how important a name is in our identity. Minh's entry, On Identity, Community, Web 2.0, and the Design of Pligg, challenged me to articulate my thoughts on the purpose of a name. In this entry, she discusses her frustrations with Pligg regarding her inability to choose her name. Instead our Penn State identity becomes our name. Her passion challenged me to consider how names and the choice over names impacts our identity. In response to this entry, an interesting dialogue ensued on Pligg. For me, our names are what distinguishes us. In particular I take pride in my name even though I had no choice in its selection. My birth name represents my heritage. In fact when I married, I really struggled with losing my last name. After all, that name was how I defined myself for 25 years, and by taking on a new last name, I had the opportunity to create a "new" me. My link theory between names and identity was shattered one day in class when Doug raised a very philosophical question, which is similar to the adage, "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?" Doug challenged my thinking when he raised the question, "If a man is alone in a desert, does he need a name?" His question required me to consider the link between identity and community. Considering these thoughts, I discussed my theory and Doug's question with McEd. McEducation affirmed my theory in that he commented on how we are our names. Providing me with a historical perspective, he commented on how originally people's names were related to characteristics that defined them including personality and occupation, hence the last name Smith, etc. Ultimately I still see our identities as being defined and communicated through our names sealing the important connection between identity and community.John's entry, Identity is in the Eye of the Beholder, asks an intriguing question. He comments on this notion of perception when he asks, "Who decides on one's identity?" Identity is not just how we see ourselves; it's also how other people see us. Sometimes we select what we reveal to others and sometimes our revelations are accidental. Identity is inextricably linked to perception both internally and externally. Our identity is composed of our personal constructions of what we believe ourselves to be and how others perceive us to be. Sometimes those perceptions align, and sometimes they don't. It seems like our identity could be compared to a wiki - a page that is created, altered, and controlled by us and those who have access to us.Mike cites some of Wenger's thoughts on identity in his post Finding Identity and Networking, same thing? He discusses how Wenger states that our identity is formed through identification and negotiation, and Mike poses the question of its relation to networking. Here again the notion of community intersects with identity. Our experiences inevitably shape who we are - our identity. To some extent some would argue that we have choice in those experiences. To answer his question, all members of the CI597C community will forever be changed by our experience and participation in this community. Access and participation in communities touch our lives and alter our identities both positively and negatively. CI597C has altered our identities - it has added and deleted content, some more than others, on our individual identity wiki pages.In closing, Donna provides an intriguing visual of identity in her post "We're all Onions." Here she describes identity as an onion, layers of ourselves, which are altered by life's experiences. Whether we see ourselves as onions, wiki pages, or another analogy, our personal perceptions of ourselves and other's perceptions of us coupled with life's experiences shape our identity of which are combined and then attached to a label, our names, that act as our coat of arms in the world.
Design is a plan for arranging elements in such a way as best to accomplish a particular purpose.
Design is the contrast of the core of limitations therefore there are no boundaries. It is simply an interpretation of creativity.
Design, in its broadest sense, is the enabler of the digital era - it’s a process that creates order out of chaos, that renders technology usable to business. Design means being good, not just looking good.
We have shirked out duty where design is concerned in this class. However, if I must say so myself, Team Tweet has discussed it ad nauseum, and we have learned quite a bit. I added the quotes above to contextualize this short discussion about design.
Creativity. usability, purpose. Lessig said it best in his keynote when he talked about design being creative and that the best designs are not necessarily new, but re-purposed, innovated upon.
Just seeing in 15 weeks how Twitter applications have flooded the market in the short time I have been following the twitter blogs and mega-ite, I am utterly amazed at how design flows in fits and spurts…mashable
Like follows like. Twitter, Jing, etc…. Face Book, Ning…..so many more beyond comprehension….Sometimes I just have to turn the computer off, there is so much to take in. And so much to learn.
Where design is concerned, the jury is still out. I have to spend more time with it, more immersion, to see how design plays out for teachers and schools. Wenger did not give me as much with this as the other two themes. Seems our class too, it rather Light on design.
I will close by saying that I have had an amazing time not being afraid of the technology, by closing my eyes and just pushing buttons and pressing keys to see what happens. That is a lot like what good design is,
trying things on in different venues, seeing what works and what does not. For teachers there is so much now, but is there community? Can you build identity enough to stick with something new?
I am inspired to take these ideas back to practice as I return to work in the schools. I will literally keep you all “posted” by posting to my Improv blog and my horsemanship blog, and my social network blog.., Horse Whispers…
Lacking any real design experience, I will close with this quote:
"Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context - a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, an environment in a city plan."
"Good design keeps the user happy, the manufacturer in the black and the aesthete unoffended."
Terribly sorry all... I know I was supposed to separate the last post into three, but as of Tuesday (and the last revision of my draft post), I have come down with some sort of flu. The meds + fever are preventing me from any form of coherent thought (my head actually hurts from entirely non-academic reasons tonight). I figured it would be best to post the draft "as is" in order to give people a chance to read over it. Again, my apologies.Community, Identity, Design.
I can't seem to separate one from the others, so I wish you luck trying
to follow the thoughts of my very scrambled brain. Our class has shifted from reading a wide
variety of authors to Wenger; so needless to say, many of my thoughts (ok, our
thoughts) are centered on the ides of Wenger.
From my very first post containing substantial content "Thinner" I have
been concerned with the concept of identity.
From the comments received, it seems like others have their concerns
too. I believe that identity is a lens as
stated in my post "to be or not to be," and I agree that is not a dichotomy but
a gradient between the individual and the rest of the community. If the community were to disappear, you would
no longer have a lens, but a mirror.
What you see in a mirror is quite different from what is viewed through
a lens. I am finding comfort in this
definition because you can control your own identity (to some extent). You can control what is put out there for the
rest of the community to view through the lens.
You cannot control, however, the lens through which people are looking
back at you, and that makes part of your identity not your own. In this way, your identity means something
different to everyone whom with which you engage. I am still uncomfortable with the thought of
multitudes of identities looking back at me.
As Wenger writes, maintaining an identity takes energy and energy is a
finite resource. I like to be able to
pick and choose (to the greatest extent possible) what parts of me I will show
to other identities to be viewed through their own lenses. This discretion takes some energy, and I am
sure this energy expended will increase greatly as I have more contact with
younger students. Some designs allow
more of your identity to be seen than others; writing in blog, sharing an
evening (in the same room!) with friends, or posting on facebook, all change
the identity lens. In the case of
facebook, I am very glad that the design is so restrictive (to the point that I
feel it is not even a community). A
person's information is shared, but as Wenger says sharing information is not
the same as engagement. To have
engagement a person has to be a part of a community and he or she has to have
an identity in that community that is shaped (though the lens) by the other
community members and the other community members have their identity shaped by
that person. In the blog post "it takes
a virtual village," Lis beautifully states how she engaged with her virtual
community. Her identity was changed by
her community and the other members' identities were changed by Lis being a member
of the community. If Lis were never to
have joined that community, neither she nor the other members would have had
the same type of engagement. With
facebook, if a user were to stop using (yes like an addict), the other "pseudo
identities" of the other facebookers would not be affected. Again, I'm trying not to be a hater I do
think that there can be wonderful, rich, virtual communities; I just think that
engagement may come a bit more naturally when people are in more "personal
contact." (Humans have evolved within
the context of voice inflection, body language, and physical contact.) Back to design design can be a facilitator
of engagement. It can help create a
community or help prevent one from forming.
I think sometimes design is unintentional by it is always
evolutionary. As the community changes,
identities change, and design changes as well.
Something with a static design may start out as a community but cannot
be maintained as a community.
I want to postscript
this blog with the fact that I am young: I've just had my 23rd
birthday. I've got sooo much living and
reflection to do. I feel that my age may
give me an advantage in the technology part of the course (ok, maybe not), but I feel at a
disadvantage when I hear (and read) the wonderful, insightful discussions
created by the rest of the community. I
want to say, while some improvements could be made in the design of the
disruptive technology course community (possibly more structure just a
thought), the ability to see though others' lenses has made a great impact on
my identity... and Minh... all the ellipses are for you :-)
Well, I feel I understand community much better than the other two themes in the class. To borrow from one of my “heavy” Wenger posts of the last few weeks:
*Today, I, along with the rest of us, examine my mode of alignment with the practices recommended by the CI597 community: Facebooking, Twittering, checking our readers twice a day, sharing our personal selves in public venues, pouring heart and soul out in weekly blog posts. As we read Wenger this week we are able to put names to practices that we have been engaging in. We imagine our place in the group,we are/are not accepted, we are part of something new and bigger than ourselves, Cole and Scott love us and will have a relationship with us after the class, or we don't relate to these practices, we don't feel the groups are including me, we don't see how these technologies will be useful and any reaction in-between. We are not certain what our classmates think of us, but we can only imagine our place in the community by what we feel and the feedback we get. We imagine the possibilities of continued participation, and imagine how it will feel when this class is over. Will our identity change when we are not required to participate? Will the community still exist for continued participation? How will I be changed by all of this at the conclusion of the community? Who will I be?
——- Well, it is now the end of the f2f CI597. There has been some noise in the Twittersphere about trying to keep the community going in virtual world. I believe the community that will continue on for a while will be the
“Tweets”—Team Tweet anyway. Becky pointed out that we have a natural inclination to want to communicate. I am certain that this is true for us as well, but as people go their different ways, however, the common purpose, the affilation, the shared experience that bound the community will begin to fade. As with friendships, perhaps communities exist for a reason or a season, and that i how it is meant to be.
In another former post, “Can’t We Just All Belong” it *is the mix of modes of belonging and their related identities of participation and nonparticipation that makes up, and is made up of, the extent to which we identify with our 'practice' and are able to control and negotiate meanings within it. At the beginning of the class we all had equal opportunity to belong. As the community built, we had varied experiences and developed a sense of where we fit in all of this (defies a descriptor, fill in your own here__)or as our fearless leaders call it, “the GRAND EXPERIMENT”.
*—-The reason for our community of practice will be over. We will scatter and strengthen our affiliations with other communities, and our practice will veer away from this class.
What I have learned from this experience, however, will not fade as I veer off into new territory. I learned that building shared experience- using the technology or not-helps to strengthen relationships that bind communities. I learned that reaching the right people(Paul Revere) at the right time, builds desire to affiliate. I learned that some people will always be joiners(early adopters) and some people will never be joiners and that is OK. The wonderful thing about humans is that there are so many kinds of people with so many varied interests and confidences and needs, that community-building becomes an art, and even somewhat of a science. To become a harbinger of change, one needs to read the stakeholders, assess the need, find the leaders, and then work the Wengerian magic….
One can design systems of accountability and policies for communities
of practice to live by, but one Cannot design the practices that
will emerge in response to such institutional systems. One can design
roles, but one cannot design the identities that will be constructed
through these roles One can design visions, but one cannot design the
allegiance necessary to align energies behind those visions. One can
produce affordances' for the negotiation of meaning, but not meaning
itself One can design work processes but not work practices; one can
design a curr iculum but not learning One can attempt to institutionalize
a community of practice, but the community of practice itself will
slip through the cracks and remain distinct hom its institutionalization
. (Wenger, 229)
I haven't written much about design over the semester because I don't feel that I have mastered the concept. However, I am going to take the above quote and apply it to our class. When Scott and Cole first introduced this class, it was labeled the "grand experiment". Their established practices to live by included reading assignments from Thursday through Monday and posting a reaction by Monday at 5pm. On Tuesday, by 5pm, the class was supposed to react to peer's postings. Our fearless leaders could not have antipated the community this class and these practices have produced.
In creating these guidelines, they have attempted to facilitate learning. It is very hard to put a label on exactly what we have learned this semester, but I feel that is because the learning that has taken place is can not be measured by traditional means. Personally, I have internalized and questioned the concepts of community, identity, and design. The meaning of these concepts that we have negotiated through our interactions have been, and still are, changing while we add to our knowlege base. As instructors, they have allowed us the freedom to converse and add to the curriculum. They had no way of predicting the quantity and quality of conversation that has taken place outside of the classroom or the relationships that have formed as a result of their intial set of practices. They could not design the alligences to the members of our community.
We have aligned ourselves in a way that is unlike many academic classes in my career. As we part for the summer, the community of practice that we have established will modify itself to settings outside the classroom. As Wenger suggests, it will become distinct from the institution of its birth. However, it will continue.
My favorite picture of my Grandmother is one of her in the kitchen stirring the gravy. In my Italian house gravy is the red stuff made from tomatoes and eaten with spaghetti and spaghetti is any type of pasta. I would watch my grandmother make that sauce and see her add the tomatoes, garlic, meatballs, and sausage. There had to be something else she added to make it taste so good. Everyone in my family has eaten that sauce and spread that secret ingredient out in the world. She taught her all of her children and grandchildren how to make that gravy. That gravy is the reification of a community of practice. My initial post talked about my siblings and I attempting to maintain our community. After Grandma's passing, I see how she was the broker of information to our family. She held the history and traditions and passed them on to us, who intern made small changes and will pass them on to future generations. She told stories of the ways her grandmother and mother did things. Her goal was to teach us to live meaningfully. I look at my earlier posts and see that her teachings have permeated my own. I think of my students and our conversations about goals, working hard, strength, responsibility, and leadership. Those core values were at the root of my classroom and the root of my family. Shared goals, methods, and stories are the elements of a community of practice. Each member of my family has participated in making that gravy. Chopping the garlic, pureeing the tomatoes in the blender, and rolling the meatballs. We take the recipe, add some of our own identity, ingredients and experiences then spread them into the world.As with the gravy, we will take the community formed by this class and add our future experiences to it. Our gravy takes the form of a blog, posts on twitter, and messages passed through various forms of the internet.
Just to have a laugh and sing a song;
Seems we just got started and before we know it,
Comes the time we have to say
Those of my vintage (and maybe younger, thanks to Nick at
Nite) may recognize this as the way the venerable Carol Burnett used to sign
off her show every Saturday night on CBS.
As I was reflecting back on this course, these lyrics popped into my
head and seemed appropriate to use for my final post.
We've stroked a lot of keys during the last fifteen weeks
writing about community,what makes one, what doesn't, what maybe kind of does,
etc. And I think that it was during these
and other discussions that we in 597 became part of an official community of
practice. And though part of me wants to
say that some members of this community are more equal than others,because there
are some who were way more engaged and productive than others both in their
contributions in class as well as out., Wenger would say that "each participant in a community of practice finds a unique
place and gains a unique identity, which is both further integrated and further
defined in the course of engagement in practice. (75-76)", which Lis
wrote about in her "Are you Living?" post way back when. I'm good with that. So even though there were some in our class
who did not sit at the table; some who skipped from time to time; some who went
through an entire 3 hour session without saying a word, the CI 597 community of practice is still
theirs to call home.
I truly enjoyed this experience,
even though there were certainly times when my head throbbed both in class and
out when I struggled to come to terms with a particular thread of discussion or
reading. 597 has spawned a multitude
of interests for me, and I think has really helped confirm for me the direction
that I want the rest of my PhD studies to follow. The fact that this could be done amid quick
wit, friendly ribbing, and lots of Twittering is a major bonus. I expect to never have a similar class
experience, but hope that I do, and will strive to create it in courses that I
lead in the future. I have a feeling that communities of practice
have a bit of a viral aspect to them.
Once one has been part of one, one might want to try to replicate them
in other parts of life, whether academic, professional and personal.
Thanks everyone for your
contributions to my learning. I hope I
was able to do the same for you. Good night! Insert
virtual ear tug here. . .
This final posting in my CI 597 synthesis is the most
important in my opinion. The course
readings and discussions were great starting points for discussing Web 2.0
technologies. Cole and Scott allowed us
to form opinions and discuss and negotiate our meaning with our peers. But, how will we transfer this new knowledge
to the creation of our own online learning environments, communities, and
lesson plans? What we may not realize is that we have already started to transfer this knowledge. In our group projects in class, every group
designed a module of instruction around a Web 2.0 technology that incorporated
the ideas of community and identity. For instance, our TeamTweet group designed our instruction with identity having two
roles. Our instruction incorporated
everyone's in-person identity and also online identity in Twitter.
How do we get started in design as we move past this
semester? Wenger provides a starting
point in the last two Chapters of his book, Communities of Practice. Wenger discusses four dimensions of
instructional design: participation vs. reification, designed vs. emergent,
local vs. global, and identification vs. negotiability. These dimensions task the designer with
answering the following questions: How much reification is appropriate and necessary in learning? How can we minimize teaching and maximize
learning? How can we link educational experiences to real world
experiences and other content areas? How is success and failure negotiated in
the design? I discuss these ideas in a
posting from April 15, 2008
entitled "Designing Learning vs. Designing for Learning." The main argument that Wenger states and I
reiterate is that "learning cannot be designed, it can only be designed for" (Wenger 1998).
We must design environments and lesson plans that facilitate
(i.e. allow for) learning to occur. We
do this by creating environments where participants feel like they are part of
a Community of Practice. They can experience, do, belong, and become. They can negotiate, develop, and share theories
and ways of understanding the world. This
is accomplished through mutual engagement, joint enterprise, and a shared
repertoire. In creating our environment
and lesson plans, we must allow for collaboration and group work, discussion,
and shared goals. By providing
collaboration and group work, we are facilitating social interaction and
For anyone that is relatively new at instructional design, it
is important to start with design models.
One design model that I use is
Bielaczyc and Collins' learning community framework. The framework requires community growth,
emergent goals, articulation-of-goals, metacognitive activity, respect for others, fail safe measures, structural dependence, depth over breadth, diverse
expertise, multiple ways to participate, sharing, negotiation and a good
quality of products. More on this can be
found in a previous post from February
The take-home point from all my posts regarding CI 597 is the
following. In instruction, you must
constantly look at community, identity, and design. Even with new Web 2.0 technologies, you still
must go back to community, identity, and design. By accommodating for all three, you WILL
design for learning and WILL create environments that allow for learning to
occur.Thank you for reading my posts this semester! All links included in this post:http://www.personal.psu.edu/mdm392/blogs/ci597/2008/04/designing-learning-vs-designin.htmlhttp://www.personal.psu.edu/mdm392/blogs/ci597/2008/04/revisiting-cops.htmlhttp://www.personal.psu.edu/mdm392/blogs/ci597/2008/02/creating-communities-of-practi.html
For my final synthesis of the three themes in CI 597, I want
to revisit my first thoughts of Communities of Practice. This final synthesis is broken into three posts,
entitled "re-Visiting COPs," "a COPs Identity," and "designing a COP." All posts are related to Communities of
This post starts with an analysis of a previous post from February 4, 2008. In this post "creating Communities of
Practice," I explain that learning in COPs is broken into meaning, practice, community,
and identity. Learning occurs through
experience, doing, belonging, and becoming.
These Communities of Practice exist because we are able to negotiate,
develop, and share our theories and ways of understanding the world. Etienne
Wenger explains that these communities include both participation and reification. These ideas can be found on a previous post
from February 11, 2008
entitled "Community of Practice revisited."
Participation and reification contribute to the
discontinuity of a boundary or help to create a boundary. The boundary allows for negotiation of
meaning through community interconnectedness with other COPs. In the Web 2.0 world, you can easily
negotiate meaning with users anywhere in the world through boundaries. More on this can be found on a previous post
from February 18, 2008
entitled "Whatcha gonna do when they come for you? An analysis of COPs in the
Web 2.0 world"
Constellations of Practice are the combination of many
different Communities of Practice. Every
time we join a new COP, we are adding an addition to our Constellation. We ARE drawing our own constellations (of
practice) throughout our lives. What does this all mean in context with Web 2.0
technology? The answer is simple. We can create COPs using Web 2.0 technologies as reification
objects or as boundary objects. However, in order
to create these COPs, we must know and understand the identity of the
participants. Thus, my next posting will
be "a COPs Identity."All links used in this post:http://www.personal.psu.edu/mdm392/blogs/ci597/2008/02/creating-communities-of-practi.htmlhttp://www.personal.psu.edu/mdm392/blogs/ci597/2008/02/community-of-practice-revisite.htmlhttp://www.personal.psu.edu/mdm392/blogs/ci597/2008/02/whatcha-gonna-do-when-they-com.htmlhttp://www.personal.psu.edu/mdm392/blogs/ci597/2008/02/wengers-constellations.html
In a Community of Practice (COP), there are many different
levels of participation. People can be
engaged members, periphery members, non-participants, etc. Participation is directly linked to identity
and belonging to a community. We choose
to participate and belong in certain ways and that belonging helps to create our
identity in that community. Wenger's
three modes of belonging further explain identity. 1. Engagement or active involvement. 2.
Imagination or seeing connections in our lives through past experiences. 3.
Alignment or choosing where to use our energy.
Do we have an influence on our identity? Yes! Sherry
Turle describes identity as the sameness between a person and his/her persona. More on Turle's ideas can be found in the
post "Neo's Internet Identity Crisis" from February 4, 2008.
Etienne Wenger describes identity as negotiated
through social interaction and that by yourself, you don't have an identity. More thoughts on Wenger's discussion of
identity can be found in the post AND comment in "After class Identity
Discussion" from April 17, 2008. We have an influence on every social
interaction we are involved in, whether it be our demeanor, appearance, words, or
I feel that the biggest question from CI 597 this semester
dealt with one's online identity. Is it
really your identity if someone is unable to see your demeanor and appearance? The answer is yes. No matter how little of a presence it is, you
DO have an online presence that people associate with you. This creates your identity. More on this is found in the post and comment
in "After class Identity Discussion" from April 17, 2008.
If we have a good grasp on what makes up a COP and how
identity is created and formed, can we design a COP? The answer will come in my next posting, "designing
a COP."All links used in this post:http://www.personal.psu.edu/mdm392/blogs/ci597/2008/04/finding-identity-and-networkin.htmlhttp://www.personal.psu.edu/mdm392/blogs/ci597/2008/02/neos-internet-identity-crisis.htmlhttp://www.personal.psu.edu/mdm392/blogs/ci597/2008/04/after-class-identity-discussio.html
Throughout the semester I have applied most of the readings towards applications in the K-12 classroom so that is what I will continue to do here. As I wrote in Form of "Community of Pratice" I think it important to make a conscious effort in the design of the community of practice that develops in one's classroom. One of the reasons that I feel this way is because of the great influence teachers have over the negotiation of meaning concerning what is taught within their classrooms. I included the following quote from Wegner in my post titled Reminder: Teachers Control Meaning and Influence the Kind of People Their Students Become and it is applicable here as well, "Because the negotiation of meaning is the convergence of participation and reification, controlling both participation and reification affords control over the kinds of meaning that can be created in a certain context and the kinds of person that participants can become." Therefore, if a teacher does not make conscious decisions regarding the classroom community he or she develops then it will be more difficult to determine the meaning that the students are creating and what kinds of participants the students are becoming.
A situation repeatedly mentioned during our discussions from this course and in my post Diffusion Across the Digital Gap can provide an example of the influence teachers have regarding the negotiation of meaning for their students. Differences in technological ability and access may be present between individual students in a classroom just as differences may exist between students with different demographic backgrounds. If a teacher has taken the time to consider these potential differences than practices will be in place to assist those students who may struggle with using technology. These practices may include using a fellow student as a knowledge broker or the creation of border objects such as a training program. On the other hand, if a teacher has not considered this possibility than there is a greater risk of further alienating a student who is already on the periphery.
Since I did not have any design-centered posts and I do not think synthesizing nothing is acceptable for this assignment I will create a post about design. Also, keeping with my usual theme I am going to focus on design in the K-12 classroom. I think that there are at least four separate items that are designed in the classroom that affect the way students learn. Well, not necessarily in the classroom, because the actual classroom design affects learning. For example, during my student-teaching placement this past fall one of my mentor teachers wanted students to be able to perform activities in groups and to participate in a wide variety of labs. He was fortunate enough to have a say in the design of his room when the school was renovated. The usual rows of desks were replaced with square lab tables that could easily accommodate four students and had access to running water and natural gas. This would help accomplish his goal, but as Wegner stated "Learnrng cannot be designed it can only be designed for." Therefore, my mentor would have to incorporate and teach activities that made use of this design. This brings me to the second item that is designed in the classroom, the curriculum. My mentor made sure that he involved some sort of demonstration or lab activity a few times a week. He felt that this helped the students learn and helped them maintain an interest in science. Along with room layout and curriculum, the design of the different tools that are available in the classroom affect learning. For example, there were four computers in the classroom which the students could use. While this made it possible for some of the students to do research during class it would be impossible to develop the back channel discussions similar to those that take place in our class. The final item that is designed, well hopefully designed, is the community. I talk more about this in the community focused post for this final assignment. So as not to bore you and to save me some time I will provide the link here Community Form, Gap, and Reminder.
Wegner often attempted to clarify his definitions of particular words in great detail. Unfortunately, his clarifications did not always help me understand the word he was trying to define. Identity was one such word. Therefore, I am going to attempt to define this word knowing full well I will not likely succeed.
Identity is how someone is perceived based upon the knowledge the perceiver has of the perceived. Therefore, what I think of someone depends upon what I have witnessed this person do, what this person has told me about herself or himself, and what others have told me about her or him. How I process this information then forms the identity that I associate with this person.
If I witness a person save a month-old baby from a burning building then I may perceive her or him as a hero. If I then learn that this person kidnapped the baby my perception changes and I may think of her or him as a villain. If latter still I read in the paper that this person kidnapped the child in order to save her or his own child (sounds like a plotline from a movie trailer I have seen) then I may sympathize with her or him at not perceive this person as a hero or villain but as a victim.
So as my knowledge of this individual changed so did her or his identity, at least from my perspective. What would happen if I knew everything about this individual from where he or she was born, to the name of her or his first pet, to the circumstances that led to her or his child being abducted, to the thoughts and memories within her or his head? Then I would use all this information to develop the identity I associate with this person. And that is the information that that person uses to perceive her or his own identity. How we identify ourselves is no different than how we identify others, we just have a lot more information about this particular individual.
Therefore, as teachers it is important to create opportunities where our students can witness themselves in a positive manner. Doing so helps them develop a positive identity from their own perspective and from that of their peers.
To give my two cents to After Class Identity Discussion if a person lived in a forest and never reacted with anyone else then he or she would still have an identity, but this identity would be based upon a single source of information and be perceived by only one individual. Also, if someone chooses not to interact with others in a given situation her or his identity changes because even without interacting others gain information about this individual.
Community: Thoughts at end of courseIn the Web 2.0 world, the definition of community has changed from the traditional definition. Before Web 2.0 technology only a few privileged individuals with programming expertise had the ability to add content to the web. All others, like me, were only able to function in a read-only mode. Now even I can add and create content for others to discuss in tools like blogs, wikis, twitter posts, etc. This inclusion of a much larger percentage of the online population changes the definition of community. Now many individuals can engage in ongoing discourse with others from around the world. This new virtual community is unlike the traditional ones we have been used to. We no longer need to or have the ability to talk with others in person. We have the technology that enables online conversations and the distance that prevents in person dialogue. Web 2.0 technology has enabled the creation of communities that would not have been possible otherwise.I use the word community in my first paragraph with specific purpose. Etienne Wenger writes about communities of practice and describes an example of claims processors. I believe, as Wenger (pgs. 73 & 125) has defined, that a community of practice must have a shared purpose or goal, mutual engagement, and a shared repertoire. I posit that most online discussions take place in a community but only specifically designed communities meet Wenger's criteria of a community of practice. I'll speak more to design issues in a later post. As a set of examples, I would label most social networking (e.g. Facebook, MySpace, SecondLife) and social discussion sites (e.g. Twitter) as communities but not communities of practice. My impression of these communities is that they typically consist of conversations with no shared purpose. They function more as a space for keeping up with friends or colleagues and exposing a part of your identity (which I will also write more of in a later post) not as a community that was formed to achieve a specific goal through mutual engagement and the use of shared dialogue tools. This is not to say that an online community cannot become a community of practice. Online communities can go through a design stage and become a community of practice.
Identity: In the end I have my own theoriesWenger and others in class (summarized by sum16) view identity as "a pivot between the social and the individual" (Wenger, 1998, pg. 145). This view was expressed to an extent that members of the class were compelled to stay an hour after scheduled class time on 4/17/08 and come to the conclusion that "according to Wenger, identity is negotiated through social interaction and that by yourself, you don't have an identity" (mdm392, 4/17/08 blog post). Obviously, I'll need to comment on this. I've expressed my opinion in class and in blog posts (sck123, 3/6/08, 4/8/08) that I believe identity resides within the individual. And, that the individual forms their identity through personal reflection and interactions with others. Parts of this identity are then shared with different communities and people. It appears to me that the discrepancy in my theory of identity (supported by mtt143) and Wenger's, lies in the locus of identity. Wenger, other class members and I believe that identity is negotiated and constructed by contact with others. But I believe that personal reflection has a significant impact on identity and that identity is located within the individual. This means that what Wenger and others in class define as identity, I view as the location of construction of identity.
Design: What is the order?Design issues are important to consider when establishing an online community or community of practice. Wenger describes design as "systematic, planned, and reflexive colonization of time and space in the service of an undertaking" (pg. 228). I believe that design in the context of educational and business settings is an issue that needs to be addressed from the very start. So often in the disruptive technologies course we were part of presentations that viewed design as a secondary issue. In other words we saw presentations about existing Web 2.0 tools and took part in discussions about how those tools could be redesigned to fit an educational or business need. Speaking from experience in education this model seems backwards. For example, when designing a curriculum the first order of business is to identify the learning outcomes. Issues of design related to the construction or redesign of existing technology only come into play later in curriculum development and only if those technology tools will enhance learning or the learning communities' discourse. Technology is not the driver of curriculum development (sck123, 4/14/08).As an example I'll give an update to one of my earlier posts (2/18/08) and many comments in class that addressed the development of the FLEXE curriculum. We have developed a mostly online curriculum in which students learn about energy processes through a comparison of local and extreme environments (the deep sea). We first identified the energy content and processes that were the desired learning outcomes. From the initial design we piloted the unit with about 300 students in the U.S. and about another 300 in Germany. Throughout the semester we have been in a redesign mode considering the online tools that we would like to incorporate into the unit. One of our next general research questions is, what are students' conceptual understandings and what kinds of arguments do they develop about energy processes when engaged in a domestic vs. an international school partnership? Hours and hours of design conversations explored the possible technologies that we may use to enable these partnerships. These conversations included discussions about pligg, blogs, and wikis to name a few. The outcomes of these conversations led to a decision to design our own modified blog system. Design issues that we considered and I implicitly have mentioned in class are student access (logins), anonymity (for IRB purposes), amount and type of student-student interaction, class time, teacher time, enhancement of learning, teacher training, ease of use, school firewall systems, etc. The take home message is that there are many important issues to consider when designing educational uses of online technologies and it is difficult to implement these technologies into K-12 environments. I believe that these Web 2.0 technologies have a lot to offer K-12 education and we should search for ways include them in which they enhance student learning. But, be ready to encounter difficulties.
Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice
a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. But we think
you're crazy to make an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as
you want to see us In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions.
But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain "
ANDREW (vo): " and an athlete "
ALLISON (vo): " and a basket case "
CLAIRE (vo): " a princess "
BENDER (vo): " and a criminal "
BRIAN (vo): "Does that answer your question? Sincerely yours, the Breakfast
Though it's over (throat constricting) TWENTY years old, I
think this closing speech from the Breakfast Club has a strong connection to
our discussions about identity this semester.
We have spoken at great length about identity over the last
fifteen weeks. Some believe that we have
but one identity and choose to show different sides of it depending on the
situation and who we're sharing with.
Others believe we have discrete identities (work me, school me, family
me, friend me, by myself me) but it could be argued that is the same thing as
simply having different sides of one identity.
Fine. However, I proposed in my
"Identity is in the Eye of the Beholder" post that it really doesn't matter how
we define ourselves, because it's everyone around us who really decides. We lead very busy lives, and though it would
be nice if everyone really took the time to know everyone else, more often than
not, like Mr. Vernon above, a label is assigned pretty early on so as to allow
for categorization and filing away, resulting in a "oh, so she's one of those. . Got it. Next!" types of thought processes.
How society perceives us is dictated by not only our
direct words and actions, but also by how behave when we're just going about
our business, i.e., (or is it e.g.?) are
we nice to the checker at the supermarket, do we throw litter in the parking
lot, do we yell at our children in public, do we recycle, etc. Our online identities, on the other hand,
are man-made. We have no online identity
if we never go online. How we present
ourselves to the online community is of our own making. As a result, it would seem natural that most
people would want to promote themselves in the most positive way possible
online. Blog posts are thoughtfully
written; tweets are witty and clever; podcasts are scripted or outlined. So if I'm reading your blog, do I really
have a sense of your identity? Do you
have a sense of my identity by reading mine? I would argue that you know what I want you
to know, and vice versa.
We as educators have different views on what and how to
share our identities with our students.
Some are all business: no
discussion or peek into life outside the classroom whatsoever. Others err on the side of getting too
technology can aid in communicating a teacher's identity, and allow him or her to learn more
about students' identities. Perhaps
if Mr.Vernon had been able to peruse the online musings of the Breakfast Club,
he wouldn't have had to ask them to write an essay on who they
were. And he might have shown a
different side of himself if they were able to do the same. But to think that would give a complete
picture of the individual is unrealistic.
Only through putting all the pieces together,what we observe, what we
read, what we experience when we interact, etc.,will any of us truly get a more
complete & accurate sense of a person's identity, and see that we are all a
brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal. Cue
Simple Minds here . . .
Here are 3 thoughts on identity that have grown into long conversations started by myself and friends or classmates. Presented in no particular order, or I guess from top to bottom:
#1. It's like I keep buying books, but I can only put them on one infinitely long shelf
Oh us Web 2.0 warriors are everywhere, doing everything, riding this awesome wave.Wey're joining sites and building profiles like collecting merit badges, but for what prize? Building to some reputation, but for who?
Do we care more about our identity in terms of internet popularity and authority, where we should maintain the side of us that people view/comment the most? or do we care more about our identity as a social mirror for talking and acting normally in a new medium? We probably care about both, but for each channel of communication we have to decide what mix of professional vs. social it should have.
Professional vs. Social. In the physical world it can be well separated, unless you're dating your boss. In the electronic world not so much, because our dates and our bosses will see the same photos and standard profiles. The web is too young and growing too fast to worry about keeping things nicely separated. Sure folders and labels and Linkedin exist, but I don't feel ready or able to organize the wealth of identity I'm allowed to create.#2. I'd love to be on that web site, but somehow I'm already on in a bad way.The Internet doesn't need your permission to create a profile of you, it only needs someone who knows something about you and feels like using the Web. John brought this up in an earlier post, where a shining example is RateMyProfessors, and teachers are not the only ones with an unrequested identity: http://www.avvo.com/ does the same for lawyers (poor lawyers, right?). So despite an educators best attempts at compiling a cool online identity through DiggleFlickiFaceCastYouTwit (DFFCYT), new students may only know you from the 2.5 stars and "super old" comment an angry alumni posted.
And it's not like financial identity theft where you can call American Express and void the old card numbers. Your profiles are linked in a long flimsy web that collapses if you change usernames or URLs. And may never know about all the profiles and sites you've been added to, so I could potentially make those profiles of you and build your web reputation more than you ever did, but build it in a new direction. So online identity can be thought of as the personal wiki, where outsiders have ways to collectively change who you are. My weird "identity balls" metaphor explained how we need to juggle our physical and online identities; but these guerilla identities are extra unwanted balls that need to be searched for and merged.
#3. How much do you care about your online identity X, and how much do your friends and colleagues?
This one partially stems from Liz's post entitled "What Aren't You?" which links our cynicism towards the same old marketing with our cynicism to the new online identities. Before the web there were exclusive clubs that only some people could join, but now everyone is becoming a member of everything (I'll discuss this problem more in the last section). If we belong to everything that everyone else belongs to, how much does status does any of them bring?
Three years ago being a member of all these clubs was impressive; now it's not. If Flickr was to die tomorrow, I could find a subsitute for my identity and feel about the same. If all photo sharing died, then whatever, it was a luxury I didn't have in 1995. I don't think our identity is very dependent on these channels, because they are so easily learned and interchangeable. I don't think we deeply care what tool for communication we use to tell something, and others don't deeply care what tools we use either.
We've been in this Cold War for a while stockpiling weapons of mass communication. Soon (or perhaps already) there are many more ways to tell people than things to tell them. The next all-important phase is to start the Mutually Assured Deduction. Whether aggregating with FriendFeed and Grou.ps, or combining into professional/social sides, we will be able to spend less time aiming our identities and more time firing them at will. We could simply unregister from most things, but it's like removing an Embassy that everyone knows is the real you. As we consolidate, the channels will consolidate and there will be less opportunities for a rogue identity to damage us. Finally, it won't matter whether we have the biggest or newest guns in our Web 2.0 arsenal because everyone can have it too; instead we'll start focusing on what everyone is shooting off about.
"When I was your age, we had to use pens and pencils." - Seriously, is this what I'll be saying to my kids? Will erasers and standalone calculators be gone? Will I never get to help my kid glue up a poster because everything's submitted in Flash? Oh, wait a second my dad wrote 100 words a minute with no mistakes because newspapers in the 40's had typewriters. Typewriters = No backspace key. Imagine a world without Undo.
Heck, you had to wait up to a day for news, not up to a minute. That's over 1400 times faster than the old speed of information. I can search through the garbage of a bad virtual library much quicker than I can even walk to a real one. Kids these days can get anything instantly and can change their minds at no cost.
#1. Can we give students immediate gratification and be secure?
It's true we are spoiled. Ultra-transparent web tools spoiled us this semester. Now when I see the black box software like Angel, I'm disappointed that I always have to log into the box to access its contents. Students are using PDAs and iPhones to access the web in a way that stinks to type; instead of visiting sites we ask them to politely vomit all their content to a list of feeds. In Angel the security is there so articles and professor-protected information is safe, and in most offices a similar intranet protects data, but it's becoming so much different from how we access everything else.
I feel that educational tools will need to be confident moving from the "closed by default" approach. Instead of everything posted in the black box (Angel/intranet/etc) being locked from the start, give posters the ability to make some things public. Sure, protected journal articles or sensitive info can stay as is, but the harmless things could be open to a hyperlink or editable from a desktop app. I've been lucky to have a few courses (like this one) where most of the curriculum is blog-based or link-based and universally accessible; it takes a high level of confidence by the educator to let his course loose. For the educators who recline back in Angel, or worse yet never post info online, students have reason to feel slighted and ironically go to the web or online courses for an accessible answer.
Which is a main question that came up in some group discussions: will the web's open knowledge and courses replace our richer, traditional curriculums or will most teachers adapt their own teachings to the Internet in time?
#2. They'll always need a TreeHouse.
Mentioned the first day of class: students are spending so much time on Facebook or Myspace... we should just put the course tools on there right? They'll resist for a while but eventually cooperate if they have to for a good grade. But now the students will need another place to live, so Facebook/Myspace will be the new intranet while some new site like TreeHouse will be the new social fort to hide in.
I believe it's OK to use tools like Facebook or Twitter if they give your classroom new features and capabilities, but the social network or "cool factor" is never guaranteed. In other words pick a teaching tool based on what it can do, not just who's currently there. It will mostly be used as required by class, and mostly thrive where it's never required. I remember reading about this in Becci's post regarding teacher lounges and the inevitable school-related discussion that pops up.
I think C&I 597 thrived even though it was required because it hasn't become the norm. If by 2010 assignments are commonly done on wikis or blogs, incoming freshmen will see it as part of the establishment and huddle around a different tool for social life. So if a teacher structures a future class with DFFCYT features, he must make room for an invisible student-only channel.
#3. Where can we make a Cliffs Notes of anything?
Uh oh it's a little meta-sounding, but are these final three reflections (and group reflection) the best way to summarize everything we've done? No, and they weren't made to be, but eventually someone needs to start working on summary tools. Maybe Web 3.0.
I mean, I've got thousands of instant messages and only a search button to explore them with. Same goes for GMail, twitter and others apart from some tag words. But when someone asks what the hell I've been up to on my thousands of posts, all I can give them is a search button, a timeline and a tag cloud? That gets them nowhere on understanding me. We're flooded with information and flooding back, but we can't summarize any of it without searching a keyword at a time.
If I'm a student or teacher, I want to remember the themes and discussions I tackled in a class. I shouldn't have to read every single post to get a basic gist, I shouldn't have to deeply tag or bullet point everything. If it's on scattered media, I shouldn't have to keep 10 windows at once to see how they combined. Why, with all our information, can we remove some? Until we do students are going to resist the tools we give them, since whatever they produce can't be well packaged. Yikes, I'll go and continue this in the third post.
Discussion continued from the design section...
#1. Can we be proud of our class communities, and put them on our resumes?
Contributing, whether in a community or alone, requires maintenance of meanings and delivery of information to help negotiate those meanings. What irks me is how impractical this maintenance and negotiation all seems. I believe it's a good thing, even though I said in February that the arguments over meaning felt too philosophical and without enough context. Again, that's often a good thing. People need to understand what they're really saying to each other before they can really agree or disagree. So what irks me is that the benefits are intangible to our quantitative world. Can we put our understanding of terms on a resume, or hope our interview asks us and appreciates the philosophical response? Can we even put our communications on a resume, or does it just have to be the few papers that ever come of it? I want to argue semantics AND be able to show the accomplishments we made.
Communication and communities are as valuable as concrete skills, and should be on a resume right next to everything traditional. Who we interact with and what we discuss is sorely hidden from our CVs and portfolios, barely ever comes up in the job interviews I have (except for inside relationships with the employer), but is the most vital part of surviving at work. Good classes are no different. Giant lectures are much different and have a history of woeful communication, but let's forget giant lectures. You want to design some perfect course that engages everyone in the room, but they know that their engagement only matters for a 5-15% participation score.
I don't know how we can design communities that are easier to review or explore, but I think it's the greatest obstacle towards realizing their great potential. Teachers, students, employees and anyone using a social tool should be able to see their work in many levels of detail; then that work can be promoted as an accomplishment, a product of some significance.
#3. The Stars are Aligned, Like Tom Cruise is Aligned to Scientology
This may be the least of people's worries, but I'm putting the tinfoil hat on. Suppose you design a great class community. The tools are right, the identities are well-defined, it's transparent and cool, and the student's treehouse hasn't been compromised. Now the community will bloom and your class will greatly align themselves to it. I see a shining example of this great alignment in C&I 597, at least in some cases.
Is that what you really want? Don't we want everyone basking in a community and exchanging ideas freely, negotiating grand meanings and coming to grand conclusions? Sure we do. But what if the community starts to align too much, thoughts become concretized too much, and those grand discussions become a back-patting session? What tactics can we as educators use to keep our community somewhat misaligned? I'm not talking about forcing sides like Riledup.com, but I am talking about forcing switched perspectives. If a class starts thinking the lectures and class viewpoints are gospel (and even if the teacher does too), it could mold their viewpoint too much. Imagine other teachers getting angry because all their new students can only think of things in terms of your course, blaming your intrepid community-building skills!
I think that would be a bad thing to get everyone too comfortable in a community, especially one that lives for about a semester. The over-alignment already exists in many web communities and could definitely happen in the classroom. If for some reason we get to that flattering problem, we need to remember that learning comes from diverse views. If students wanted to pay tons of cash to agree about everything, they'd be in a cult, not a school.
*I had started writing #2 but realized it was always going to be crap by definition, so I skipped it
First of all, I will still post here until CI597C ends.Second of all, since I am set to graduate this summer and possibly lose access to this blog, I have decided to make a preemptive strike against my content and moved it all to another domain. If you like reading my thoughts, or simply treat them like a car crash (you just have to look, don't you?), then be sure to subscribe to my new blog, http://www.rubywahoo.com.My site may change its look a few times until I find a theme that offers the features I want while maintaining soothing aesthetics, but the content will be the same content you love or hate to read. I welcome your feedback on the current theme and suggestions for future themes. Be sure to send me your new blog URLs as well if you are in a similar situation with regards to your webspace account!Check out It Doesn't Hurt To Think...
Very interesting-- K-12 teachers, beware!
*But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed
Well something’s lost, but something’s gained
In living every day
Joni Mitchell came to mind as I sat to compose this, my final piece on identity. I feel as if I have looked at identity from both sides now- from how I see myself and how I am seen by others. Identity is important because it is what (to use an analogy to wild horses) defines our place in the herd.
Who defines this identity? At first, several weeks ago, I believed that I was in charge of my identity, how the world saw me. Each individual takes the collected experiences and finds meaning from participation, and WE construct who WE are. Identity is not a tangible that can be objectified. It is "the constant work of negotiating the self". [My favorite line] "It is in this cascading interplay of participation and reification that our experience of life becomes one of identity, and indeed of human existence and consciousness. However, of late, , I have come to realize that each person sees me in a different light, depending upon the social interactions or lack of same that have occurred. The idea is so simple, yet Scott really blew me away when he pointed out that I have an identity even though I had nothing to do with building it, and, in fact, people from far away whom I do not even suspect of knowing me, view me through my blog, or by hearsay, and have an image of who I am. Joni was on to something when she wrote about clouds illusions being interpreted so many different ways by so many people. Such is identity.
Reflective teachers are self-aware. Asking the correct questions elicits a response that reflects on their original views/beliefs and then how they see and hear things differently having reflected on an answer. They must become aware of any personal fears and the basis of those fears. They must indicate an awareness of their biases and their reactions due to their biases.
But now its just another show
You leave em laughing when you go
And if you care, don’t let them know
Don’t give yourself away….
At first blush, the design segment of the course seemed like
it got the shaft. We were asked to
finish the Wenger segment on design, but didn't have the opportunity to really
debrief on it as a group in class as we had with community and identity. We certainly had a field day talking in class about community, and identity has seen a great deal of action on the blog as well. As another indication, "design" is also the smallest of the three
main themes in the 597 Tag Cloud on Pligg. Is it that the other two themes are more compelling? Are the parents of these three themes having to listen to a whining Design in the den like this? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yZHveWFvqMUpon
further reflection on my blog posts, however, it's clear that design has played
a role throughout the content during the semester, even though we haven't necessarily labeled it as such.
Throughout the semester, we have discussed design in terms of purpose and appearance
of each of the tools that we reviewed. With Twitter, for example, I discussed in this
post about the fact that the design of Twitter
required me to think in very short & sweet phrases, and exercised my brain
in a way that regular blogging and emailing did not. I also wrote in this
post about Pea's references to design way back in January when he wrote
about the evolution of learning tools over time and how 2.0 tools will do the
Believe it or not, I actually thought Wenger's thoughts on
design were the most palatable and practical parts of his book. I agree with his statement that learning
cannot be designed, and that teaching does not cause learning (p. 267). It's kind of like being the host of a dinner
party. You can plan the menu, arrange
the seating and set the table, but you can't orchestrate the outcome. Things burn, wine spills, friendly differences
of opinion turn into arguments, etc. You do your best to anticipate what might be
an impediment to a fun evening, but once the first doorbell rings, it's pretty
much out of your control. The same is
true to some degree with learning. We as
educators can do our best to plan, to utilize the tools and resources that we
feel are the most appropriate for the level of education and experience, as
well as the goals of the participants in our class, but countless other factors
will play a role in whether or not we are successful.
Please leave a comment to this post related to the food and drink you'll contribute to the final class.
In his blog about DNA and identity, Brandon discusses a recent news story in which a woman discovers she is a genetic anomaly. In short, questions of her identity are raised around biological influences on identity and self-concept, to which I raise the following points in consideration of both social and biological architecture on identity formation and recognition.
I think there are many factors to consider here. genetic code, gene expression, and environmental influences, to name a few. Consider the following similarly statistically probable phenomenon in human development as the woman (chimera) mentioned above: two fraternal twins, one male, one female, can be entirely genetically dissimilar. That is, it is about equally as likely that two children born of the same parents have no dna in common as it is for the woman in the above story to have 'two selves'. In fact, on the average, siblings from the same maternal and paternal gene pool are anywhere from only 25% to 75% genetically similar.
So, what does this say for identity? In both cases mentioned here, identity is obviously informed by more than any one factor, genetic, social, or otherwise. For genetically dissimilar fraternal twins, especially those with no knowledge of their genetic dissimilarity, the socio-environmental influences of their upbringing (as kin) in a family/community (cultural context), if it occurs this way, would seem to counter-balance, if not override, any biological differences between them as their identities are formed in the context of their familial relationship.
The following is a response to Keith's post on Simultaneous Influence of Multiple Communities on Student Behavior.
Keith's post makes an excellent point and one that is seriously under-considered. If a situation exists, like in your example, where students are expected to perform two different norms of behavior in a particular situation at a particular time, then we should consider the paradox created.
In this case, school culture and street culture exist in opposition to one another, but are composed of the same set of actors. These actors perform the roles that they perceive as offering the highest reward. For the students who perform the roles of the street culture in school, their rewards are both part of why they are there (in school) and why their street culture behavior is reinforced. The relationship between school culture and street culture is complex, but at the most basic level, they reify one another. That is, students who perform the norms of street culture in school may do so because the culture of the school exists as it does (in opposition to street culture).
In a sense, the school confirms the identity of the student performing street culture due to the mere existence of it- the construction of it as school, not street. More so, I would venture to say that the relationship between students performing street culture in the context of school culture is even stronger than that of the in-group culture relationships (street-street, school-school) in this example. This relationship between street-school cultures is amplified and strengthened through cycles of tension, conflict, and resolution and these students have formed a community of practice based on resistance to a (school) structure that (re)enforces their identities as street actors. By engaging in school culture, even as outsiders-within, students performing street culture are at once bound to, (re)defined in, and liberated by school culture.
Wow! Four months ago, identity was just a word to me. When I used it, it was usually followed by "theft" or "crisis," depending on context. Today, after nearly completing CI597C, the word is much more than an adjective prefix (I just made that term up!). It is a conversation starter; a living, breathing, abstract concept; and a conundrum of sorts. My identity is who I am , or is it simply who I perceive myself to be? It is who I am to others , or is it simply who others perceive me to be? Even after so many questions and conversations about identity during the past four months, I can safely and confidently say that my definition of identity has not changed during the past four months. That would be too simple and finite, implying that I have reached the end, or a destination in terms of understanding. No, my definition of identity has not changed; it has evolved, moving forward along an existing journey, with more twists and turns ahead in every future conversation. You know the conversations: after a few minutes, someone makes an excellent point that really drives home the idea of identity and silences everyone for a few seconds as they retreat into contemplation of the idea. Then, someone begins, "That makes sense, but " and sheds light on the exception to that rule, the one that reignites the discussion for another round. Really, is this evolution and flexible certainty over the definition of identity any different than my identity itself? I have been the same person for the past 10 years of my life for the most part. I am the same person with this set of friends as I am with that set of friends generally speaking, of course. I know who I am usually. I behave predictably most of the time.In a previous blog post about an individual's identity varying between communities of which they belong, I state that the same person demonstrating one set of knowledge and abilities can be simultaneously viewed differently by two different communities. The example I gave is that I see myself as someone interested in researching camps. In the research community, I am sometimes identified as a 'camp expert,' whereas in the camp community I am sometimes identified as a 'research expert.' Both the research and camp communities would find the idea of me identified as an expert in their respective community to be humorous. What define my identity for each community are the elements of my identity that set me a part from other members in that community.Naturally, this led to discussion with classmates who disagree with this idea. The ideas and arguments include identity being as simple as your name or avatar, how others perceive you, or a thing that resides within you. Who is right? Is anyone right? Are we all right? Is one of us more right than any of the others?While thinking about the idea that identity is strictly something that resides within you, I remembered a sound bite from a talk show. It occurred after season 1 of Donald Trump's The Apprentice had ended, when contestants were doing reunions and other talk show appearances. Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth was addressing how she was portrayed on the show in similar fashion to her quotes in this article about "the evil sista of reality television." Omarosa was the villain of season 1, but she continually claims that she was the victim of editing, and that she is really a pleasant person. The other person at the interview said something to the effect of, "They can only edit footage that they have, sweetheart." In essence, the other person was telling Omarosa that she can claim the screaming, aggressiveness, unhappiness, and laziness were part of an attack on her but those actions and traits are part of who she is. The editors couldn't make that up unless it really existed.Identity can be defined and perceived in many ways. It can be split into little bite size samples, like appetizers at Fridays, with different people each getting a little slice. Sometimes you control who eats which appetizer, and sometimes the other people grab at the plate before you even see it. Identity can also be a concrete thing that changes when viewed by others, like a piece of art in a gallery. Determining whether the Mona Lisa of your identity is smiling or frowning really is in the eye of the beholder, even though the expression is identical on the canvas. Identity can be defined by an individual and redefined by others , or the individual.I wonder what my identity is with regards to my classmates in CI597C. Am I a pain the butt, or a humble apologizer, thanks to my post on Have Nots? Am I a technologically fluent person who likes to talk and philosophize? Am I a camp dork? Am I a Mac lovin', Tweet rockin' geek? Am I someone who loves The Office and Scrubs and invites you over to watch? Am I a car-selling, house-buying, bike-riding, job-hunting adjective-verb lover who shares with the community? Or are these suggestions merely my own construct of my identity, and how I think and prefer I appear to you, based on who I think I am when I am around you. I'd be interested in hearing you tell me what you think my identity is...The point is this: in the argument of whether your identity is something that resides in you or is determined by other people, you have to remember that they can only edit footage that they have, sweetheart.
As the days of CI597C come to an end, I started to think about our community that has been created over the last several weeks. For some of us, I think that the end of class could evoke some strong feelings. For others, the impact could be quite a different experience. I'm thinking that the strength of emotions parallels engagement in a community - the more engaged, the greater the feeling of belonging, the stronger the feelings are towards the community, and when the community changes or disintegrates, the greater the emotional feelings. Our physical meeting space will exist no more, but for some of us, the virtual component of the class will provide a forum for conversation and potential sustainability for some of our community. It will be interesting to see how the CI597C community evolves over time. Many of us have discussed the need for face-to-face contact at some point. A completely virtual environment would not be ideal for a course (for some of us). I wonder what the rules will be for our virtual community. Since this component has largely existed online, without the support of the physical contact, what will the impact be on our online environment?
After class last week, a few of us were discussing Wenger, of all things, and the talk veered into negotiability though engagement. Wenger says, “New meanings contribute to a joint enterprise to the extent that they are adopted; only then do they become effective practice in the community. (p.202) Interactional characteristics of practice allows newcomers to appropriate meaning in a community and develop an identity of participation. My work has always involved marginalized populations of young people, and in my studies this year, I have focused upon the interactional characteristics of the classroom community and how marginalization occurs for English Language Learners in the Science classroom. I have also stumbled upon a practice called sheltered instruction that may be able to include technology in the model to scaffold the “joint enterprise” of meaning-making in the classroom community.
I see Facebook as a possible tool for meaning-making for marginalized youth. Using the criteria above, Facebook could, then, become a community of practice, as the members engage in joint enterprise. Although the meaning made is different for all members, the mutual engagement “can be a vehicle for sharing ownership of meaning” (Wenger, p. 202)
Members of Facebook are encouraged to log on often and partake of the many applications and widgets that may serve as data or data collection devices for the Facebook corporation. The draw of participating is the fact that consistent engagement with a member page or member’s own page keeps the member from being marginalized. Marginalization is the “punishment” as it were, for not knowing the etiquette of the social network and gradually being ignored until such time as the participation level corresponds with what is considered the competence level of the community. Members whose contributions are never adopted, are marginalized. Facebook is a metaphor of sorts for real life. Sometimes when one feels marginalized, non-participation becomes attractive.
In our real life after-class conversation last week, we talked about intentional marginalization by non-participation. There are consequences for this. Wenger explains (p.203), “when some always produce and some always adopt, the local economy of meaning yields very uneven ownership”. Further, “if the situation persists, there is a reinforcing condition of both marginality and inability to learn.” Often, students in risk intentionally withdraw from participation and choose marginalization in order that they never be branded a failure in the mainstream.
I must admit, I was not certain that the heavy philosophy of Wenger could have such meaning-making for myself in my work, both here at university and in public schools. After intentionally re-reading and focusing upon interaction and systematic engagement with the Wenger material, I have found much in the smaller sections. Wenger is about community, identity and design. However, in between those large concepts there are many tiny paradigms that, given the proper attention, make meaning emerge now for me.
Maybe it is time to take a second ( er, 4th and 5th) look at this work.
First off let me say that I was slightly disappointed that Wenger only wrote 1 chapter specific to education. This last chapter left me with a questioning feeling of how much does all of this actually relate to education (schooling). While Wenger alludes to education and uses cursory examples he application of theories to formal education (learning vocabulary) falls short of actual direct application of community, identity and design theories.That being said, here are a few items that popped up while I was reading the last two chapters.Design in education. In the last few weeks and in Wenger's design chapters I was prompted to think of the order and role of design. We have taken a look at a number of technologies in the last few weeks but I believe we need to be reminded that technology does not and should not drive education. In other words, as curriculum designers we should not choose a technology first because it is neat and new. And then design a curriculum and subject matter around the use of that technology. This is backwards. The approach that we should use is examine the desired learning outcomes first and then incorporate the use of appropriate technologies only when they can enhance learning. On page 271, Wenger writes about the construction or design of learning communities as the first item of business in educational settings. After learning communities are functional then content and technologies can be inserted.What about individual learning? What about home schoolers? How functional do learning communities need to be before they can begin to study content? Wenger makes it seem like the establishment of the learning community is a long, difficult, and very calculated endeavor. I think not, in education. I remember back to the beginning of each school year that I taught. I established the guidelines and rules of conduct for my classrooms in about half a period and begin on content during the second half. I don't believe that the classroom learning communities I had needed to be fully established before any learning took place. I set the initial guidelines in a very short time and the students tested and gained experience with them through the next few weeks.
Hard to believe, but it is time to share the final assignment for the semester. This is a two part assignment ... the first is to be completed on an individual basis while the second will be completed in your teams. This week we'll give you over half the class to work with your teams, so come prepared with any questions you may have. Also, it is important that you get close to completing the first part prior to class Thursday.Individual Assignment (Part 1)You will make three separate blog posts that are designed to be a synthesis your own work from the past semester. We'd like you to draw upon your own posts and synthesize your thoughts around our three themes -- community, identity, and design. Each post will be about one of the themes. Please take time to link to your own posts and to draw upon the work of your classmates that may have influenced you over the course of the semester. When you do draw upon any examples please take the time to link to the originating content.Team Assignment (Part 2)As a team, you will be asked to create a single wiki page that will provide a meta synthesis of the 5 core technologies the teams covered in class:podcastingwikisyoutubefacebooktwitterWe'd like you to discuss the 5 core technologies in terms of the of the affordances they provide and their relation to the three themes of the course. We'd like you to draw upon your individual responses from the first assignment as well as from other external sources.We've created wiki pages for each team that you will use to create your final team synthesis. We will ask you to discuss these in class the last week.
Interesting Twitter experiment
After class today, a few of us hung around for an hour and discussed ci597 and Wenger. We ended class by saying that according to Wenger, identity is negotiated through social interaction and that by yourself, you don't have an identity. However...1. What if you never interact with anyone? The extreme case: What if you grow up in the jungle and your only social interaction is with animals. Do you not have an identity? Is interacting with animals considered social interaction?Another idea... 2. The point was made that even if you choose not to engage in a community, your identity is still changed because of that choice. I can see how in some cases your identity would in fact change by making that choice. But I don't agree that it always changes. If I act a certain way before I am introduced to a community and choose not to engage in that community because of those actions, then my Identity has not changed. What has changed is the community's perception of myself. They label me for choosing not to engage in the community but that label has not changed my identity and who I am. The only thing that's changes is their perception of me.Feel free to respond with pros or cons to our/my ideas. Thanks to those that hung around after class; it was a great conversation.
I sit here and ponder and think and wonder who I am. Wenger states that we need to be engaged, possess an imagination, and have the ability to align with the broader structures of society in order to create a full identity. My identity has gone through a transformation from student to teacher and now back to student. Adjusting to my new identity and position as a grad student has been a challenge. Initially, I was very hard to give up that control and the idea of being the authority figure in the room. My actions have changed to where I am the one who raises my hand in class, asks questions, does homework, and writes papers. I'm not responsible for everyone and everything in the room. I am a different student now than during my undergrad. I've incorporated my six years of teaching experience into my goals and methods of working. However, I do admit that some of my old bad habits will surface from time to time.
How do my professors identify me? Is it only based on what I write? Only on the material submitted for judgment? What constitutes who I am?
I update my Facebook profile and know that I am creating a public persona. How do people formulate my identity from that page? What about this blog? Who do they think I am?
My experiences this semester have changed who I am and the way I think. At this point, I am enjoying this new identity.
"Learning cannot be designed, it can only be designed for." ~E. WengerOver the last few weeks we have talked about learning with respect to communities of practice, trajectories of participation, emergent structures, boundaries, social power, engagement, alignment, and identity. We have tied in online communities, online identities, and Web 2.0 technologies to our discussions. As we start the final Chapters of Wenger's Communities of Practice, we have one last piece of the puzzle to ponder and discuss: design. Learning can and should also be discussed with design. Although, "one cannot design the practices that will emerge.. the identities that will be constructed.... the alignment of energies.. or even the meaning and/or learning," one can design for instruction that will lead to the occurrence of these practices in some form (Wenger 1998). Wenger states that there are four dimensions in instructional design. Participation vs. reification, designed vs. emergent, local vs. global, and identification vs. negotiability. These dimensions present a give and take relationship where the following questions arise: How much reification is appropriate and necessary in learning? How can we minimize teaching and maximize learning? How can we link educational experiences to real world experiences and other content areas? How is success and failure negotiated in the design?There are so many different questions that we can answer and prepare for in our instructional design, and yet, we will never be able to completely design the learning. For example, in our CI 597C: Disruptive Technologies course this semester, we never could have guessed that Twitter would be one of the most used technologies. In fact, the other members of the Twitter group and I (teamtweet) thought that Twitter was a bad choice of topic at first. Twitter soon became THE technology of use in CI 597C and learning did occur. The key was that our instructors Scott and Cole designed the course FOR learning. They did not know what would be learned or the alignment of energies to certain technologies.At the end of the day, an instructional designer must be able to answer the question, Did I try to design the learning or instead, did I design for learning? If the answer was FOR learning, then the instructional designer can sleep well that night knowing that authentic (i.e. real) learning will occur.
I'm trying to tease out one of Wenger's many thoughts. In an attempt to decipher his cryptic code, I wondered if I could apply his thinking to a pop culture trend. Surgeon General's Warning: I may be going too far, so proceed only at your own risk...Wenger discusses imagination and its role in creating community, not necessarily a community of practice, but rather a sense of community. If Wenger read this post, he might agree that my thoughts are a stretch just as applying his notion of imagination in creating communities of practice is, but I am going to try it anyway. Wenger says that when watching a television show, we can imagine that there are numerous other viewers who are watching. Consequently we start to feel a sense of belonging. I wonder what Wenger would say to certain reality television shows and their impact on our imaginations. In particular, I am considering American Idol (AI). When you watch AI, you see the audience members. By physically seeing some of the fellow viewers (including stars sometimes), does that impact our imagination and consequently our sense of belonging? After all, it provides a visual image of those who tune in each week to watch the show. Moreover, each week the show also declares the number of votes cast during that particular week. That said, does that declaration also impact our imagination and our sense of belonging? Beyond the hundreds that we see in the audience, we hear that millions have voted, does that increase our sense of community?
Wenger states on page 229, "Learning cannot be designed: it can only be designed for - that is, facilitated or frustrated."How true this is! I have found as a teacher and curriculum developer both frustration with design and the freedom from design. As a teacher I designed some of my own curriculum and "used" curriculum that others had designed. I enjoyed the freedom of tailoring instruction to my particular students. Textbook curriculum fell far short of being designed for specific students. They always needed some level of modification. The freedom that I experienced designing learning activities for my students was indeed difficult but usually the most effective at stimulating learning. This point is closely related to Wenger's thoughts. Even though I was able to design learning activities tailored specifically to my students, that does not mean that the students would automatically learn. As a teacher I still had to enact the curriculum and constantly monitor and adjust it to promote student learning.
Diversity in the Classroom, [More] Questions Teachers Should Ask
Gone is the melting pot that America was to become. Instead of celebrating likeness, we celebrate differences. With the differences comes labeling for ease of sorting and counting. All the sorting and counting is to determine if everyone is being treated with a certain parity, or equity. With labeling comes the afterthought of American unity which belies a certain sensitivity about just how persons are sorted and counted and referred to. Finally, with sensitivity should come self-awareness. Never has self-awareness become as important as it is today, in the schools of the great melting pot, America. Teachers must be especially vigilant about bias in the delivery of educational opportunity. As the research swings from a focus upon conceptual change theory and poverty as an explanation of student failure to a focus upon the effect of facilitator delivery and educational design, teachers are more open to blame. Teachers, then, should engage in self-reflection and examine the social constructs from which they formulate a philosophy for teaching. They should identify and acknowledge any biases they possess. Questioning the multicultural constructs of the classroom is an excellent place to begin. However, let us propose that the reflection can proceed on a deeper level.
All persons should develop a degree of self-awareness that moves beyond the political correctness of hyphenating American labels of ethnicity. .With regard to diversity, the multicultural literature ranges from benefits of an ethnic foods day to total disregard and an anti-sentiment toward labeling of any degree for multiculturalism. Within the teaching learning community, educators are divided themselves about what teachers should be paying attention to. There should be a degree of inclusiveness in teacher definition of equity beyond cultural and gender. A narrow definition would not include many of the 12 areas of diversity— a range of human diversity found in schools - including nationality, ethnicity, race, religion, gender, class, language, sexual orientation, and ability levels. Based on the assumption that change begins with the individual teacher, Cushner (Cushner, McClelland, Safford, Philip. - Human Diversity In Education, 2002) stresses the belief in getting to know the uniqueness of each student. Therefore, teacher reflection across the range of human diversity is in order. The questions that we received in class were excellent and captured several areas that teachers need to assess, however to move education forward, perhaps the politeness that is used to discuss all diversity needs to be dispelled and the true issues be exposed by asking more difficult questions.
Reflective teachers are self-aware. Asking the correct questions elicits a response that reflects on their original views/beliefs and then how they see and hear things differently having reflected on an answer. They must become aware of any personal fears and the basis of those fears. They must indicate an awareness of their biases and their reactions due to their biases. Perhaps after each question in the handout we received, teachers could be encouraged to probe deeper, and, using examples, describe how each response translates into actual methods and strategies of teaching. Include questions about how to promote equity, and how to talk about individuals and individual needs (rather than grouping). Write the questions to reveal an increased range of inclusiveness beyond race and gender. When the response shows a deviation from “I don't see color…I treat all students alike” to “Each person's needs are different.”, then the grasssroots teacher movement will have begun.
Reflective teachers can determine how to establish an accepting climate, and how to plan effective instruction to meet individual and group needs. Responses should indicate that the teacher has a command (and willingness to use) a variety of strategies or approaches. They may discuss: Cooperative learning, Demonstration/modeling, Role model approaches, Multiple Intelligence/Learning styles. Teachers should not rely on “tourist” or “food day” approaches. Diversity goes beyond simply teaching knowledge about cultures. Their instructional strategies involve promoting interaction skills or knowledge to appropriately relate to individuals who they may not think are like themselves.
The following table suggests an additional method of assessing teacher behaviors, beliefs, and ideas that would add to a teacher’s reflection when coupled to the questions in the handout. Teacher reflection on these topics is not comfortable and often not encouraged. Diversity is most often about race rather than individual differences we all possess. Perhaps it is time for all teachers to reflect about how they personally feel about “others”, or deviants from the norm, and decide if they can admit to bias and work to dispel or overcome such bias for the good of ALL learners, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, race, religion or lack of, gender, class, language, sexual orientation, and ability levels [and dress code, hair color body piercing and use of idiom]. If not, they do not belong in a classroom, because a little “judgemen[t]” goes a long way to affecting student achievement in a negative manner.
Statements Strongly Agree
C Strongly Disagree
1. I almost try to understand customs of diverse cultures A B C D
2. I look for opportunities to interact with different cultures A B C D
3. I would welcome an opportunity to live with a classmate from another country A B C D
4. When I meet someone from an unfamiliar culture, I almost always try to find out more about their culture A B C D
5. I would welcome an opportunity to take some of my college courses in another country A B C D
6. Adapting to the customs of another country would not be a problem for me A B C D
7. I enjoy hearing different languages spoken A B C D
8. It is important for me to learn a language other than my own A B C D
9. World interests tend to be more important than the interests of my country A B C D
10. I would enjoy working with coworkers who are from other countries A B C D
11. I have many friends of different ethnicities A B C D
12. I would feel that in order for a person to become an American he/she should be willing to give up some of their loyalties to their countries of origin. A B C D
13. Although individuality is important in the United States, excessive differences in beliefs can hurt society. A B C D
14. The different language groups in America are beneficial to the cultural development of the U.S. A B C D
15. It should not be too easy to become an American citizen A B C D
16. A person's work ethic tends to be related to their cultural upbringing A B C D
17. I see nothing wrong with a person wishing to live in a neighborhood composed of only one ethnic group A B C D
18. Citizens who have different national backgrounds should be encouraged to retain their various customs and traditions A B C D
19. It pleases me to see such great variety of religions in the United States A B C D
20. Some people are too insistent on retaining their customs and traditions while living in the U.S. A B C D
21. I am pleased that various ethnic groups raise their children in different ways A B C D
22. Students who do not speak English should be given an opportunity in the public schools to be instructed in their native language A B C D
23. The fact that various ethnic groups raise their children with different customs and traditions does not pose a problem to our public schools A B C D
24. I feel that stressing different ethnic customs and traditions in public schools tends to reduce learning the basics (i.e. reading, writing, math, etc.) A B C D
25. Public school teachers should encourage their foreign students to speak in their native language. A B C D
26. It is important for English speaking students to learn how to speak a foreign language A B C D
27. The public school curriculum should concentrate more on the development of American society as a whole rather than on specific ethnic groups A B C D
28. The American public school system’s curriculum should reflect the heritages of the different ethnic groups in our society A B C D
29. It is necessary for the schools to use standard English as the only language of instruction A B C D
30. It is important to celebrate diversity in the public schools A B C D
Ambrosio, A.L. (1998). Multicultural/Diversity Scale-Revised (MCR).
Radio Lab recently had a show called (So-Called) Life in which a woman in need of a transplant test her children's DNA. They find that the children match the father's DNA, but not hers! Additional testing reveals that the DNA in her blood is completely different from the DNA in her saliva -- she is, essentially, two different people.<SPOILER ALERT>Basically, doctors have concluded that she is a chimera. That is, her mother was pregnant with two embryos that fused within the first few days of life. They did not blend, but rather the new embryo contained some of the parts from baby A and some of the parts from baby B -- she was her own twin sister. To put it into perspective, if the eggs had not completely fused, this woman would have been Siamese Twins. Instead, she is both twins in one body.She started talking about the thought the she is two people, that her salivary glands differ from her circulatory system, that she has two different bodies inside of her. Naturally, this raised some interesting questions. What is her identity? Is she two people? Is she one person? What is a person, if the DNA suggests that she is two persons?
Interesting article on what is likely the harbinger of the Death of Texting for the teenage demo
Technology for Communities blog
Community of Practice on Wikipedia
Etienne Wenger's COP website
Communities of Practice andCommunity-enabled Strategic Results from Self-Organisation
This is in relation to my post on Identity, Imagination and the Digital Age - girls beating someone up and posting it on facebook and youtube. What sickens me most is the mother defending the beating say the girls were insulted on facebook by the one they beat up. How do these girls identity themselves if they post a video like that on youtube? Does the web 2.0 world make it easier/cooler/intriguing (??????) to commit acts of violence? What makes someone an internet star? What do people like to watch? I feel like this sort of thing is some gutteral throw-back to the gladiators - who will we throw to the lions next?
As this semester progresses and we venture deeper and deeper into our on-line identity intersecting our on-screen selves with our in person selves, I have been doing a lot of thinking on the formation of identity. Not in terms of who we see ourselves to be today but rather how we became who we are today. I am a digital-immigrant and proud of it! I cherish my childhood memories of building forts in the woods behind my house, sledding, biking and making up stories with my family. Television was an oddity in our house, we did not have cable until I was 10 or 11 and though we had a Commodore 64 computer, I only used it to play an 8 bit toothbrushing game (something the digital natives would most surly scoff at). My offline experiences shaped who I am and how I see the world; I worry about the natives who swim in digital waters, who will they become, what does it mean to live on-line? Wenger addresses my very concerns when he introduced imagination into the identity equation; two quotes illustrate my wonderings. "Imagination is an important component of our experience of the world and our sense of place in it. It can make a big difference for our experience of identity and the potential for learning inherent in our activities (176)" and "In terms of participation, imagination requires an opening. It needs the willingness, freedom, energy, and time to expose ourselves to the exotic, move around, try new identities, and explore new relations ... Participation can also serve imagination with visits, contacts, and travel that provide exposure to other ways of doing things, other enterprises, other practices, and other communities (185-186)." The way I read these quotes is that if participation is required of imagination and imagination is an integral component of identity then how can people ever form a cohesive identity if they live out a large part of their lives within the confines of their computer screen? When Wenger speaks of the "exotic" I for one will venture that he was not referring to certain websites censored by any semi-effective firewall but rather exposing oneself to the novel, seeing the world as others do, living outside of your comfort zone and pushing your boundaries of the possible. No matter how advanced virtual reality gets it will never replace the memories I have of my 12 year old self walking through an open air market, deep in the Yucatan penninsula, smelling rotten meat and dried corn, watching as women shooed flies from soon-to-be dinner and knowing in a very visceral way that my life was fundamentally changed because I now knew that all people did not pluck nicely wrapped styrofoam containers filled with steak, from a cooler in a well lit grocery store. My life was not all there was. We have been applying Wenger's arguments to Web 2.0 but we haven't questioned what we are giving up in return for instance messages and podcasts on demand. How is our children's identity going to be fundamentally impacted? What memories will they carry forward? What will change their lives?
Sometimes something will just hit you in the face that you don't realize until a while later.In reply to a comment (or several comments) I'd made on a post in Pligg, Lis addressed me as "mtt143." This has been one of the most annoying aspects of Pligg: Why are we identified by our Penn State IDs? In our own blogs, we can choose to display our names however we'd like. Most don't change the default FIRST MIDDLE LASTNAME format; some change it to First Lastname, F. Lastname, First M. Lastname, or some variation of it. We could use any of our online handles if we wished, but none of us choose to. But, at the least (and at the risk of sounding complex), in our own blogs we identify ourselves however we identify ourselves. We don't get this option in Pligg.Is it odd that Pligg--the online version of our CI 597C classroom/community--chooses our identities (okay, labels) for us? Pligg forces us to relate blog posts to a jumble of letters and numbers instead of a name or a face. In our online community, I am mtt143; I'm not Minh-Dan, or even Minh, or that weird Asian girl who causes trouble in class. Just mtt143. I didn't even choose mtt143! I didn't choose this name, these initials, or the fact that I'm the 143rd mtt to get an email account at Penn State.When reading posts in Pligg, I can look at other writers' IDs and put a name and a face to it. sck (hi Steve), eal (hi Betsy), dmd (hi Donna), ecs (hi Lis), rsw (hi, Becci), . . . . Maybe I'm blessed with a better memory than some, or maybe I just care to identify the author as a person I know rather than as an (seemingly) anonymous contributor to an online community. But, who's to say that same courtesy will be extended to me? Maybe people don't care that Minh wrote that horribly offensive comment. Just that mtt143 person, whoever that is.I have a friend at Cornell who calls me mtt29 (that's two-nine) to my face. That's just funny, and it's okay, because he in the same breath will call me by my full name (full first, middle, last) name and also by my AIM screen name. And, that's okay. He knows who I am, and I get that. But again, that kind of familiarity is rare, especially now that we've been exposed to these (I believe) limiting Web 2.0 applications and environments. You can know all the details of a person's life, put that to a name and see a photo of a face, but who's really going through the effort of putting it all together? Most people probably won't bother.Just mtt143.
I liked the piece on literacy--much easier to digest than Wenger. Figure 1.1 is a very helpful comparison of 1.0 vs. 2.0, and would be a good place to start to explain it to someone new to the concept. The research referenced on pg. 15 answers some of the questions that have been bubbling up among us, in reference to Twitter in particular. Nice to see Lessig getting some play here, too. I also appreciated her take on wikis, and wonder how Andrew Keen a.k.a President of the Hannah Arendt Fan Club, would respond to all of this.
As we attempt to come to grips with a description of identity in the Web 2.0 world I found a few excerpts from Wenger that speak to learning communities that may be applicable."... learning involves an interaction between experience and competence" (pg. 214)."When a community makes learning a central part of its enterprise, useful wisdom is not concentrated at the core of its practice" (pg. 216)."Learning communities do have a strong core, but they let peripheral and core activities interact, because it is in these interactions that they are likely to find the new experiences and new forms of competence necessary to create new knowledge" (pg. 217).As people interact in blogs, wikis, twitter conversations, etc... are they participating in learning communities? This gets back to the implicit question of the title of this course, disruptive technologies. As an educator, I am always looking at new technology from a stance of how can it enhance learning not distract learning. I think web 2.0 technologies do have the potential to stimulate learning communities if used correctly. One example of a benefit of web 2.0 design is that many more members of communities can now have their voices/ideas heard. In a traditional classroom it is difficult if not nearly impossible to gather feedback from every student during every class.
As our class reaches the “crescendo” and begins the slow roll to the end of weekly enlightenment and camaraderie, it is the mix of modes of belonging and their related identities of participation and nonparticipation that makes up, and is made up of, the extent to which we identify with our ‘practice’ and are able to control and negotiate meanings within it. At the beginning of the class we all had equal opportunity to belong. As the community built, we had varied experiences and developed a sense of where we fit in all of this…(defies a descriptor, fill in your own here____)
Today, I, along with the rest of us, examine my mode of alignment with the practices recommended by the CI597 community: Facebooking, Twittering, checking our readers twice a day, sharing our personal selves in public venues, pouring heart and soul out in weekly blog posts. As we read Wenger this week we are able to put names to practices that we have been engaging in. We imagine our place in the group—we are/are not accepted, we are part of something new and bigger than ourselves, Cole and Scott love us and will have a relationship with us after the class, or we don’t relate to these practices, we don’t feel the groups are including me, we don’t see how these technologies will be useful…and any reaction in-between. We are not certain what our classmates think of us, but we can only imagine our place in the community by what we feel and the feedback we get. We imagine the possibilities of continued participation, and imagine how it will feel when this class is over. Will our identity change when we are not required to participate? Will the community still exist for continued participation? How will I be changed by all of this at the conclusion of the community? Who will I be?
Within the mode of engagement, positive outcomes for us as learners are to be able to 'appropriate the meanings of a community and develop an identity of participation' (p.202); but it is also possible to exclude learners from the negotiation of meaning so that 'members whose contributions are never adopted develop an identity of non-participation that progressively marginalizes them' (p.203). I, for one, have engaged to the fullest extent, and with Team Tweet, an identity has emerged that has forever changed me. Twitter has created intersections with people that manifest in shared histories of learning. These practices that I have aligned with and engaged it have helped me form f2f relationships that will forever change me. The intense relationships may fade as we go our separate ways, but the opportunity is there to continue to engage with this community in concert with all the other communities weparticipate in for the fullest identity development.
Alignment might have the largest part to play in learning to be a participant in a community of practice. This is, perhaps the most important mode of belonging. Without it, learners meaninglessly exercise imagination in a social vacuum. But ownership of meaning and the possibility of creating new meanings is necessary and only possible if individuals take steps not to become marginalised. To dredge up early Wengerisms—community members must retain the identity of the peripheral participant on an inward trajectory, rather than maintain an identity of marginalization. Lurking on the periphery will not suit. Entrance to the community lends power to an individual. Wenger’s account of the dual nature of identity reminds us that 'Identification without negotiability is powerlessness - vulnerability, narrowness, marginality. Conversely, negotiability without identification is empty - it is meaningless power, freedom as isolation and cynicism' (p.208). I believe what this means is that we have to “give over” a certain amount of ourselves to adopt enough practices of the community to give ourselves a “say” in how things are to be. Whether we truly feel accepting of a practice is not as relevant as how we appear to feel by our behavior. Meaning-making for CI 597 is achieved by discourse (blogging, Twitter, podcasting, class meetings), coordinated enterprises (group work, Go Tweets!!), compliance with expectations (reading Wenger, weekly blogging and trying new things—Twitter), and finally, participating in the full complexity of the community. In this case, you get what you give.
If you consider our grand experimental class as a microcosm of a larger, less transparent community of practice, it is easy to trace and document key Wengerian points of belonging. Participating in this class has forever changed my view of community, identity and design. The lessons we have learned here (beyond the technology) are applicable to ANY community-building venture or participation in a community of practice.
I imagine that I am part of something much bigger now. I now engage to the fullest extent in all I do because it is the shared history that makes the meaning and grants acceptance. And finally, I have learned (a bit to late for some communities I wanted to join) that alignment is KEY. Without appearing compliant with practice and intersecting with community norms on a regular basis, relationships cannot happen, power is lost, and meaning cannot be made.
All in all, important lessons for all of us to learn.
As the semester draws to an end and my peers (from CI597)
and I go our separate ways, I find that our identity is forever changed.
Throughout this semester, we have actively been involved in discussion and
group work. We have taken past experiences and related them to concepts
and theories from class. We have decided how and when to use our energy
to enhance class discussion and group projects. We have participated in
all three of Wenger's modes of belonging. In "Communities of
Practice", Etienne Wenger discusses three modes of belonging that form one's
identity. 1. Engagement or active involvement. 2. Imagination or
seeing connections in our lives through past experiences. 3. Alignment or
choosing where to use our energy (1998).
Before I get to my conjecture that identity and networking are the same thing,
I want to side step and talk about alignment:
Alignment is the mode that most interests me. How do I choose to use my
energy? For the past 48 hours I have spent about 20 of them making a
project for a workshop I am giving this Wednesday. The project was
not for any of my classes, however, it still was high on my priority
list. Why? Well, I wanted to create a database web-application that
would help my peers learn about databases and want to invest their energy in
the same way. Also, it was fun and challenging. I find that these
two qualities of a project often provide for the best learning
environments. If the project was not as fun as I thought it was, I am
certain I instead would have only spent half the amount of time on it.
Also, if it was not at first challenging, there would not have been as much
personal satisfaction at the end of completing it. A sample of the
project is available at http://workshop.msw-is.com/teacherSiteOnLine.html.
A few of the qualities of alignment that Wenger discusses are finding one's
view or common ground, being a boundary for communities, and developing a focus
(1998). When I present my workshop on Wednesday on Databases, I will
become a boundary between the technical side of computer databases and the
educational goals and knowledge of the participants. BTW, Anyone reading
this is welcome to attend: Keller 313, 4/9/2008, @ 1-3 P.M.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP.
Wenger says that identity is formed through identification (choice) and
negotiability (adoption). We choose to engage ourselves with and meet
certain people but we also negotiate our identities in many different
communities. Others choose to interact with us and help us form an
identity in our communities. This sounds a lot like networking. I
will define networking as engaging others to advance our career. Finding
an identity is not much different. Wenger points out that power is a part
of finding identity. Identity is in a way social empowerment. By
choosing to engage others in conversation and brokering and being boundaries
across learning communities, we are forming our identity AND networking.
Why is my identity forever changed after leaving CI597? I have formed
relationships with others involved in CI597 that will lead to my involvement in
other communities (Gaming Commons with Bart Pursel), social events (enjoying
trivia night at Otto's with my group), and research projects (PSU's
Although I initially joined the CI597 learning communities for acquisiition of
knowledge, I find that with an open mind and alignment of energy, I have found
opportunities for creation of knowledge that have far exceeded my
expectations. Thank you CI597 teachers, peers.
Seriously.Between the various terms and ideas that were presented in this book, it seems as though every possible combination between them has been uber-explored. They've been paraded in front of my brain in every possible formation and choreographed dance sequence. They've been partitioned into grids, trees and even yin-yangs. Now I hope that this incredibly dense knowledge ball is still willing to make some outside connections in my brain.Then again, that's how my entire brain felt like, a giant dense ball, before I was politely asked to make outside connections via Twitter/Flickr/blogs/etc. That analogy (opening the brain ball) made the most sense to me so far, so I'm sticking with it.Normal people (without multiple personality disorders or con-artist professions) used to only worry about negotiating & building their one identity; a lot of what Wenger "told me" seemed nice and comfortable in a one-identity world. Trying to live two or more identities at once was difficult outside of well-written movies. But now to use these new tools I have to establish a new set of online identities or "profiles" that will never contain all the meaning and identity of Real-Me. Sure maybe I can eventually resolve them all into one E-Me but it's still something that didn't really exist before the social Internet. I mean, never before was there some place people could instantly go to learn about me, my interests, my details and everything in-between. Someone doesn't even need to talk to me or anyone else to know who I am, and if they get logs of my electronic conversations they can really know. Even people who have talked to me through only electronic means are becoming friends with a new identity. Some may have no image of my face beyond an icon or crappy 3D crocodile avatar.Where at first it felt like making new connections out of this brain ball, letting people communicate with Real-Me in great new ways, and eventually a new identity ball might emerge on the other end. But now I feel like that E-Me is created from the moment I make a single connection, and every subsequent connection is an attempt to make my second identity either more real or more fantastic. With Twitter, Facebook, and other social sites I feel like identities are more real than before; Web 1.0 identities were more based around forums or online MMO games where new identities were all the rage. And where dating sites fall in that divide? I guess it depends.how you approach dating.All in all I believe what makes the Web special is that suddenly we are given a chance to have another identity, which is literally a supernatural power. Supernatural! But will we use these powers for good or idle? Will my real identity ball lose definition and never mature because my Internet ball gets so much attention? If I spend my puberty in front of a computer, should I really be considered an adult, or do I need to physically meet someone once to qualify for a high school diploma?Can our minds handle having two balls and having this duality? Nature didn't design us to, and I think the jury's still out whether we really can. More importantly, whether we should make everyone handle it, which is the foreseeable direction of an ever-so-digital world.Oh gee, listen to me, going on and on like a certain author. I hope this resonates with other people's thoughts, and would appreciate suggestions to replace the term "identity balls".
I cannot recall a time from the first decade of my academic career when I thought about how the work that I was doing was contributing to much more then fulfilling a requirement to pass a particular course. Towards the end of these tens years, thoughts of how my performance will influence the university that I would be able to attend occasionally drifted through my mind. Then, around the time of my sophomore year, I had decided that I wanted to attend Penn State.
Up until I made this decision my participation in school contributed to my identity in much the same way carving the blocks related to the worker who saw himself as a stone cutter. My view of the value of my contributions in my classes was limited to simply completing the immediate task at hand. I would venture that most people are more enthusiastic about the tasks they perform, whether it be carving blocks or completing coursework, when what they do is connected to something greater. I know when I knew that I wanted to go to Penn State my willingness to put forth an extra effort increased significantly.
It would have been nice if my teachers had been able to find a way to put additional meaning into the coursework. I have learned during the past few years that students' performances increase when they know that their work will be used in a capacity in addition to assessing their performance. Creating wikis that will be used by their classmates is one example and using their newly acquired knowledge in a debate moderated by parents is another. Including these things as a teacher will help many students value their contributions more and draw them in from the periphery, increasing their satisfaction, and changing a few would be stone cutters into cathedral builders.
Once again, Wenger's meaning is beyond my negotiation skills and has thus induced mental pain in my attempt. In the begining of this class, I would have argued that learning did not require social interaction, what I believe Wenger terms mutual engagement. I have found, at least in my one sided attempt to negotiate Wenger's meanings, that engagement with my classmates (community members) is imperative to my understanding most of what he says. I wish my brain was capable of assimilating this high level abstract discussion of social intricacies, but I believe that is why I chose science (physics) as my field of study. It makes sense to me; I guess it's just the way I'm wired.So where does that leave me as a member of the community? In what way do I belong? I do engage, at times, when I feel it appropriate and worth my contribution; but far less than most. I absorb more than I offer back. How does all of this affect my Identity? Wenger says that "lack of mutuality .... creates relations of marginality that can reach deeply into our identities." But I would not say I feel marginalized, or that it has affected who I am. But does my marginal status affect how others identify me? (Probably) I do learn a great deal in class from our topic discussions, but I do not necessarily involve myself in the discourse. I believe that my participation/engagement habits are more of a product of my identity/personality than an influence on them. So what does this all mean? I'm not sure, I have some more negotiating to do, when I am better rested than I currently am. Perhaps I'm in the midst of an identity crisis?
Wenger's discussion of identity used several examples that I would have used, making it more understandable. Identification with one community does not necessarily have a bearing on one's identification with other communities, though it could. In the New York area, people are typically fans of the Yankees and Giants or the Mets and the Jets, however they can have all different religious affiliations.The issue of imagination is one that comes up in several contexts. In the story of the stonecutters, one of them sees his work as part of something greater while the other sees his work as something great. Contextualization provides insight into one's perspective. There are plenty of unsuspected possibilities looming on the horizon, That is both comforting and disconcerting. We have dreams and visions of what our lives will be. It is nice to know that such dreams can be exceeded, but we have to accept the possibility that things could go horribly awry.
In a classroom context, teachers seek to engage students, but can
benefit from some disengagement of their own by imagining themselves in
the position of their students from time to time.Concerning alignment, we do what it takes to play our parts. Wenger states that there is directing and controlling of energy. When he writes about alignment creating communities and cites circumstances that create strange bedfellows, I immediately thought of something I often say, "there is no greater uniting force than a common enemy." This is an approach some teachers dare to take in an effort to get their classes to come together. Our identities are socially organized and dynamic, allowing us to invest energy to work to improve them. Web 2.0 technologies permit us to "create wider, more complex, and more diversified economies of meaning and communities" and expand our identities. Hopefully such a spread can help dispel stereotypes, which when combined with imagination can prevent a great deal of progress from being made.
I'm a little out of practice with Wenger and unsure if I want to get back into that practice. Hmm. I'll kick myself out of the Wenger community of practice one day.I want to make examples of Wenger's modes of belonging using ideas of a previous post; otherwise, I won't be able to make sense of whatever it is he's talking about with this whole "modes of belonging" idea. Also, I want to see if putting the words "MARCHING BAND" into a post will alert some commercial marching band website to try to trackback to this post multiple times. (Whoever you are, I want you to know I WILL REJECT YOUR REQUEST EVERY SINGLE TIME.)So, Wenger's modes of belonging are engagement, imagination, and alignment.As a clarinetist in a competitive high school marching band, I would feel "belonging" to multiple communities. I would be engaged in the practice of playing the clarinet with other clarinetists in the band. I would be engaged in the practice of marching band-ism (marching, playing, rehearsing, competing, etc.) with the other members of the band.My imagination would allow me to "belong" (or not belong) to multiple communities. I could imagine other clarinetists in other high school marching bands, college marching bands, concert bands, jazz bands, orchestras, professional symphonies, etc.; I would belong to an arguably elite group of clarinetists worldwide, even if I've never met them or never heard of them before. I could imagine other high schools' marching bands; although we attend different schools, we (I would imagine) practice the same activities (marching, playing, rehearsing, competing, etc.). I could even imagine how other schools may have different practices: maybe they high-step instead of roll-step; maybe they only have a drum corps (no clarinets!); maybe they have bag pipes; maybe membership isn't voluntary (or by audition only). Imagining how others may be different may allow me to feel more belonging to my own community; imagining how others may be different may also allow me to feel belonging to multiple, similar-but-different communities.Our high school marching band would try to align its practices to rules and practices of larger organizations. The band "belongs" to a particular school district, and because of this, we must choose our music and programs to appropriately represent the district (no nudity, no explicit language, proper conduct). The band also "belongs" to a bigger organization called the Tournament of Bands, which encompasses many districts in a variety of states; because of this, we must choose our music and programs to match given standards set by the TOB (for example, length of program), and we must practice and rehearse according to the TOB's standards (for example, using high school football field hash marks, not college football field hash marks; also, on an American 100-yard field as opposed to Canadia's 110-yard field; using proper roll-steps; making appropriate eye contact with the press box; memorizing music; etc.). Aligning to an outside organization's standards breeds a feeling of belonging to "something bigger." This also requires some imagination! And engagement!See my previous post (about the Symposium) for thoughts on identity. (I beat Wenger to it.)And to you, Mr./Ms. Commercial Marching Band Website Advertiser Person: Prepare to have your trackback rejected!
Wenger once again causes my head to throb as I attempt to decipher his thoughts. And by decipher, I don't mean the traditional meaning of "decipher", I mean. . . And by "attempt", I don't mean the traditional meaning of attempt, I mean . . . And by "I", I don't mean the traditional meaning of "I", I mean . . . Geez. Why use the word when you mean something completely different instead of finding the word you actually mean? I'm sure this will look like one big mess once it translates over to Pligg, but I hope my frustration translates. I have a few issues with his definition (surprise!) of belonging and community. One page 181, he writes that "calling the viewers of a television program a community of practice, for instance, would be pushing the concept beyond its usefulness". But what of the multitude of blogs and discussion boards devoted to dissecting each and every detail of "Lost" or "Battlestar Gallactica"? Are they not a community of practice? Read Washington Post columnist (and my former neighbor) Lisa DeMoraes' weekly discussion "On TV" on washingtonpost.com (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2008/03/30/DI2008033001297.html) and you will see a definite community of practice of not only TV watchers, but of the live discussion itself, with their own inside jokes and pet names for the host. If Wenger's distinction is they don't fit the definition of a community of practice because they're not all watching the show together in each other's company, what if they twittering about it from their respective living rooms as they were doing so? Would it count then? What about attendees of a movie? Because they're all in the theater together, does that then fit the definition? Yet I would not consider myself part of the "Go Diego Go" community of practice simply because I accompanied my 4-year-old to the show at the Bryce Jordan Center. Does that matter how I identify myself? Or as I suggested in a previous post, is it only how others define me, no matter how I might be privately identifying myself, that matters?
Great read about the potential power of Twitter. Comments? Thoughts?
or at least he did for me this week...Wenger had my full attention and unwavering support after reading on the first few pages. On page 175 he discusses his definition of belonging. What really touched me was his comment regarding the physical limits in time and space. It's possible that the only reason it was a home run and not a double hitter could be because right now I feel completely overwhelmed (the physiological limits he mentions) and constrained by the number of hours in the day and the amount of items that need to be completed within the next 48 hours. If I listed them for you, I might even be considered a superhero, for I truly think that no human could possibly accomplish such a feat. I feel that I am not alone in this endeavor. I often hear others (including faculty, fellow students, friends, and family members) who share this pain. The physical boundaries of time don't bulge. Therefore, when we cram enough activities/requirements of ourselves into that space, something has to give, and we know it isn't the walls of time. Wenger mentions that a trade off of our swelling engagement is competence. How much competence is sacrificed in order to complete the tasks that we have required of ourselves? So much to do, yet so little time... It sounds like the old quality versus quantity debate. Who will win the battle? Either victory creates a loser. Is there an ideal victor? Could we find peace in times of war between quantity and quality? What drives me crazy about this debate is the fact that the outcome of such a battle impacts the individual's identity. The degree of competence shapes our self esteem and how others view us (two defining characteristics, I think, in identity formation). This perception of self either by ourselves or by others impacts our identity and has implications in our lives. It determines your friends, your occupation, your opportunities, your life choices, etc. Yet, knowing all of this, many of us still insist on shoving more clothes into the suitcase of time. Why do we do it?
That is the question. Or at least the discussion. Identity. What I am taking from Wenger is that identity is about how you perceive and reflect the world you experience. This can even include self-reflection, and imagined experiences and perceptions. To me, Wenger's idea of identity "negotiation" is the filtering of identification through the individual. If I'm totally wrong here, somebody please help me! Identity is the personal lens to the world... it is how one perceives themselves in relation to the rest of the world and how the world perceives the person. (Think of a lens though, the view changes depending what you are looking at and through which end you are looking). I do not think there is identity without both types of perception. (Wenger's flower, for example, cannot have an identity). I am going to go with Wenger's view that learning shapes identity. If an identity is not changed in some way, there is no learning (and the poor flower can't learn). I still do not think a community of practice is necessary for learning. Where I strongly agree with Wenger is in his description of his three modes of belonging: all require energy, and all have the potential to be restrictive or freeing. I think my problem with some of the Web 2.0 applications we have been studying (such a twitter or del.icio.us) is the feeling that these are actually restricting my modes of belonging. They are taking up energy I would prefer to use elsewhere and my frustrations leave me more misaligned with the members of those communities more than anything else. (Sorry twitter peeps!) A great thing about Web 2.0 however, (at least outside of class), is that we can choose which communities we wish to engage in (and align with) that will help shape our identities.
Here is Tweet Talk 3, featuring Mike Montalto-Rook, Lis Boyer, Donna DeNoble, and myself (Brandon Rubenstein). We feel like we have hit our stride in terms of dynamics, content, and flow, but we welcome your feedback!Tweet Talk 3 - 2008 TLT Symposium.mp3
I acknowledge that my previous blog entry about Have-nots was written with the intent of being controversial in an effort to induce discussion. If you read it, you will notice that there is shock value in paragraphs 1 & 2 and I
apologize for making anyone feel insulted. In reflection, shock value was not the smartest avenue for starting an intellectual discussion, as the topic was almost completely avoided on Thursday at the risk of touching off WWIII. But I would like to emphasize
the argument in paragraph 3, which is where I suggest a new direction
for future discussions of Haves and Have-nots.
Saying "We need to be aware that there are Have-nots" is a finite
statement that leaves no room for discussion. That is why I am suggesting a new
statement that opens the conversation up in two areas: 1) How can we
make it our responsibility to encourage the Haves to take advantage of
their resources and opportunities and use them to benefit Haves and
Have-nots a like, and 2) To change the conversation from the finite,
"We need to be aware of Have-nots" to the open-ended "We can overcome
the obstacles facing Have-nots by..."
A classmate said both in class and in her blog that a lot of the conversations at
the symposium "were mostly talking ABOUT people like me rather than
WITH people like me." She and I share a similar thought, in that we both want
to include Have-nots. For me, this means future conversations should
focus on including Have-nots among those who benefit from the uses of
technology. For her, it means including Have-nots in the conversation
itself. Again, let me reiterate the commonality that we both emphasize the inclusion of Have-nots.
Despite the shock value of paragraphs 1 & 2, hopefully you can see
the merit of paragraph 3 of both the original post and my response to
eal166, which states these very ideas. If nothing else, I invite her (and all other readers)
to join me in contributing to a positive discussion where together we
can explore how educators can overcome these obstacles and ensure that
Have-nots become Haves in terms of growth and benefits.
Hopefully this new post, which omits the shock value, is worthy of a
response from our community =)
The rest of the Wenger book has been posted to ANGEL. Please read 173 - 221 for next week. That rounds out Part II on Identity. That also means that we should take up identity next week in a pretty serious way and also that you should focus your blog posts on that same concept. The last section is on Design. Feel free to dig into it if you have reading time, but you will need to finish up the rest of the book in the next couple weeks either way. Have a good weekend and I will see you on Thursday.
Drop them as a comment here.
WARNING: This video contains some mildly naughty language, but is not obscene.
The 2008 TLT Symposium brought together many people with common interests in technology and education. I was impressed with Dr. Lessig's talk. It keeps issues of copyright laws in the forefront of our minds. He was also an entertaining speaker, which always helps. I found the interactions with other participants interesting to find out what technologies and how those technologies are being used in education. I did find it curious that some of the presenters were having difficulties with 'simple' technologies like powerpoint and internet websites. While new technologies are being used at Penn State I did not feel that I was exposed to the cutting edge educational tools. Maybe I was just not in the most up to date, exciting sessions. I know that very exciting things are going on at PSU but did not happen to see sessions of web 2.0 technologies. The sessions I attended were more like a sharing of how technologies were being used. I think the conversations and questioning at the end of the sessions was the most useful. There were a number of questions that asked about design issues and considerations of implementation in other settings.
So, the TLT Symposium rocked. Go
Lawrence Lessig! I especially appreciate his commentary about the
irrelevance of Latin to the popular culture of the middle ages and the
similarity of this historical phenomenon to the disconnect between
popular forms of communication among contemporary youth cultures and
academy-sanctioned modes and methods. As an art educator,
Lessig's sentiment is well recognized and deeply felt. It
encompasses what I've been trying to communicate in class discussion
about the importance of images and valuing multiple plat/forms of
In your teams, take some time to discuss these questions and be ready to share your thoughts.What do you see as the higher education translation into k-12?You've all been to traditional conferences, did the back channel conversations (powered by social media) change the experience? What are some takeaways as it relates to your own future learning environments?Characterize your identity and relationship to the other TLT participantsDid you get a sense that there was a clear TLT community based on your interactions with the people there? What sort of evidence can you state as to whether it is a community?
I knew I was forgetting something this week. I forgot to write in my blog! So, my thoughts on the Symposium: It was aiight (Dr. McD's word).As interesting as it was to see people all agog about technologies in teaching and learning, I felt like I was not truly a member of the community. Maybe it's because I'm not Twittering yet (oh I didn't say that) and I didn't have a laptop to whip out to check out what other people were Twittering; since I don't share these practices, I'm not a member of this community of practice. Maybe it's because the Symposium's theme was "How do we as teachers find ways to connect with those digital natives using their native technologies?" when I don't yet identify as a teacher--I'm still pre-service, after all--and I am one of those digital natives. It was difficult for me to participate in those sessions because the attendees were mostly talking about people like me rather than with people like me. I suppose this would have been a golden opportunity to get involved and give them "my side of the story," but perhaps my asocial behavior was also blocking this avenue. (Minh + big groups of strangers = not a good idea.) Maybe it's because I refused to tag myself. Was I openly repelling people because I lacked a technological identity?This is something I've been thinking about. Does my identity come from only me--the way I'd like to think it does--or, if I don't have an identity (that is, I'm not sure how to practice with a new community), would the community assign me one? Would I just be the loner/newcomer/outsider/etc.? Can you be given an identity without your own input? Let's take out the "I" for a minute: If I were a shell of a human being (okay, a robot) sitting in a room full of members of a community of practice, could I still have an identity? I think I'm not wording this the way I want it to sound, so the point/question I'm trying to may be confusing.About the Symposium itself: I had hoped it would have been more of a learning opportunity for me. I probably could have picked better sessions, but I didn't walk away with a lot of new ideas (although I liked "notecasting"). Maybe it's because we're in a class about how to use these technologies in teaching and learning environments, and I've already been exposed to most of them. The ones I didn't know weren't elaborated on. Where was the Jing session? Why doesn't the one technology that I haven't heard about get its own session? I think this is a design issue!And, isn't it odd that we were all given analog pen and paper to tote around the Symposium? Eeeenteresting...
- What do you see as the higher education translation into k-12?
- You've all been to traditional conferences, did the back channel conversations (powered by social media) change the experience? What are some takeaways as it relates to your own future learning environments?
- Characterize your identity and relationship to the other TLT participants
- Did you get a sense that there was a clear TLT community based on your interactions with the people there? What sort of evidence can you state as to whether it is a community?
March 16th, 2008
Feudalism 2.0 (or serfing the web)
by Tony Haile
It took Europe 800 years to break the stranglehold of the feudal system, and the social networks six years to bring it back.
The feudal system gave Europeans their identity: you were a landowner or you were a serf. One was more fun than the other. Serfs were bound to the land, without freedom of movement. Their homes and belongings were property of the feudal lord and their labors lined someone else's pocket. A serf could escape, but they would have to leave with nothing, never to see families and friends again. The barriers to freedom were intentionally high.
In the last few years the online world has seen the rise of personal identity. We are no longer just pistonheaddave or topcattone, anonymous monikers for flaming or gaming; we are Dave Morris or Tony Haile, we Google others and expect to be Googled, our flirting and romance is just as likely to take place online as it is in a bar. There are people whose perception of who I am is governed 20% by a shared flight and 80% by my facebook page. However, these identities that define us so much are bound to the company in whose site they were created, just as serfs were bound to the land in which they were born. We own nothing and if we leave we leave with nothing. Welcome to feudalism 2.0.
I don't have the freedom to move the facets that make up my online self from Facebook to LinkedIn or Myspace, my content and relationships are the property of Facebook, as are the words exchanged with friends; I can't message my Myspace friends from Facebook. My content is their content, my relationships are their relationships and my communications are their communications. I can escape and start a new life somewhere else, but if I do I do so faceless, barren and alone. My identity becomes fragmented as I move from site to site hemorrhaging the words, photos, messages and relationships that make up so much of my identity online. Old friends communicate with the ghosts of profiles past, not knowing that I have slipped away and begun (again) with nothing.
I don't want to be too quick to judge the social networks, they have every right to do what they do, and we wouldn't use them if they didn't provide a valuable service. Going further, many would say that this post is a story about a pain that simply isn't there. Most seem not to mind that who they are is owned by Mark Zuckerberg or Rupert Murdoch. However, might it be that, like the serf whose horizons did not extend beyond the fields his father tilled, we've not yet been able to conceive of anything better?
We need an Enlightenment online. An evolution of personal identity that says I'm free to throw sheep at people on Facebook or explore new bands on Myspace, but my content, my contacts, and my communications are in my control not theirs. I want people to be able to connect and interact with me through one unique identifier that doesn't change, no matter where I choose to host my identity. I want to own my identity, I'm tired of being owned.
A group of us have started Chi.mp to try and jump-start this evolution of identity. We are building a Content Hub and Identity Management Platform that can be deployed on any domain and puts the individual in control of their own identity. People using Chi.mp will have identities that are importable, exportable, interoperable, portable and most importantly theirs. By deploying it on the domain of your choice you can move from Chi.mp to another identity provider without losing the unique signifier that represents you. Oh and if you don't have your own domain we'll give you one (like everything else) for free. We're turning the social networks inside out and making the Internet the Platform again.
This blog is an opportunity for some of us within the team, in particular Josh Porter, Brian Oberkirch, Myles Weissleder and myself, to delve into the area of identity online and engage with those who are interested in domain-centric identity and Chi.mp. After all, persistent identity online is the opposable thumb of the Internet; hopefully now we can all catch on…
Grab the Feed
Long week but got a wide assortment of brain food to digest. At the risk of sounding too butt-kissing, the TLT Symposium on March 29 was THE most impressive symposium/conference/convention/etc I've been to, particularly in terms of quality and coolness. Now in the interest of full disclosure I haven't been to many other academic gatherings (and have thus missed out on a quintessential perk of academia) but the rest felt like "excuses for similar experts to travel and eat". This one had a clear, actual purpose of helping people understand things, and that usefulness probably helped trickle into the web setups, tagging, paraphernalia and conversation.In other words coming from an engineering arena to an education arena, I felt like there was much more outright teaching of new concepts than just necessary explaining. This feeling was magnified when I drove the next day to the Baltimore-DC corridor for a robot engineering meeting. Although the presentations (including mine) seemed to come across very well, 90% of effort was spent just getting a basic understanding across. Like we were all on different expertise mountains, taking days to slowly connect a string between us so we can tie it to soup cans and get communicating. This happens in many subjects and in pre-college subjects, but I've never been on levels that are so high up and far apart.Blah blah blah, why is he talking about this? Well, the hosts of the robot meeting actually tried to use a social-style software program to help alleviate these formal communication barriers, talking real-time instead of through alternating PowerPoints. I'm sure the details of it are highly classified but after using other tools (blogs, chatting, twitter, wikis) you know the general strategy. Even in a government setting with people who were unfamiliar to social software, it worked quickly and helped tremendously. It also showed those same Web 2.0 novices exhibit some of the same online behavior (and there very well might have been outright "trolling" or "sock puppetry") so these behaviors aren't from long-term exposure to the environment. Social electronic conversations to develop in telltale ways despite the subject or its importance, despite the people or their experience, even despite the environment around them.Are all CoPs equally ready for something like Twitter?Luckily I wasn't very important or useful at the meeting, so I could spend all day focusing on this stuff.
Quit your damn crying. There, I said it. This entry is like making fun of the Amish on TV; they can't watch it, so no harm done. And since Have-nots have not access to the internet (or else they would be haves, right?), I can write freely without worry about offending anyone. Well, anyone except self-righteous Haves who champion the cyber civil rights of an invisible part of our global community. You know, the invisible community members who have not a clue that their non-existent rights are being violated.<rant> Ugh. I just read another blog entry featuring the cliche argument pointing out that there are people 'without access' to modern technology and its many accompanying benefits. Is there anyone who really isn't aware of this by now, who doesn't realize that some members of American society choose to make excuses (i.e., "I can't walk to my public library, which provides access for free") so that social observers can use clever phrases like "digital divide" or "Haves and Have-nots?" Hooray; there are Have-nots in the world. And guess what: even though I have publicly acknowledged it, those Have-nots still exist and they are still Have-nots. Nothing has changed by acknowledging what we already know. Now that I have made it clear that there are two different types of people, we should be able to focus on how to unleash the potential of the Haves instead of perpetuating negative imagery and jealousy against them. Haves are the new version of "male, middle class, and white."Instead of focusing on the plight of the have-nots and pointing this out through clichÃ©s like "We need to realize there are Have-nots but I am offering no plan other than to point this out as important to think about", perhaps the new cliche should be "We realize that there are Have-nots. As such, it is our responsibility as educators to ensure that the Haves take full advantage of the opportunities that exist because of the resources they are fortunate enough to access. It is our responsibility as educators to impart upon Haves the responsibility and expectation that they will use the opportunities available to them as Haves in a manner that benefits all members of our society -- Haves and Have-nots alike. And the Amish"</rant>PS - There are some people who cannot walk, or who have broken bones. Let's not forget that sports create Haves and Have-nots. (Man, that sounds ridiculous!)
it was a fine place that i would say, to see some interesting presentations, and also with warming environment. I enjoyed that day, of course it was also partially because of the weather.However I was thinking, that it could've been going a step further. Facebook Twitter, yea great stuff, but I guess I was looking forward to something with gaming or more media related presentations. (by gaming NOT second life)So here are some pictures. The reception, also where the tag teams was. tag desk of the symposium, which thought it rocks!and also saying, Thank you for your work Tag Desk team!MOO stickers! also was a great idea, which I want to use in a different conference!
I received my first almost marriage proposal on Saturday at the TLT symposium when I suggested that I relay instructions to my fellow classmates through Twitter. The day was a blast. I truly enjoyed passing notes with my 597 community. We had the chance to conduct conversations about diverse topics when we were in opposite sides of the conference center. It was interesting to see how many of the topics were related and the different questions my classmates posed. It is also a challenge to get our thoughts into 140 characters. We've now developed our own lingo. 597 has now become part of my new PSU community, something I didn't have when I first arrived in January. I've had the opportunity to gain a deep respect for each person in the class.
Lessig opens up a lot of questions for me. He showed us these great videos and talked about how it gives cultural access to anyone with a $1500 computer. He's right, but as usual, my concern is those without access to that computer. I worry about the grand canon that is being created between the haves and the have nots. My background in the arts wonders how artists who make their living through creating works will be protected. It takes a lot of time and money to create these videos, music, and scripts. I plan on reading more of his books to familiarize myself with his ideas.
Lessig's style is both entertaining and informative. I'd like to know exactly how he creates his presentations and how to achieve the perfect timing. It is a great way to teach modern students.
The workshops made me more aware of the identity I create online. I realize now when I place items on Facebook that professors, classmates, former students and so many other people can see it. I'll adopt the Mother Meter for Facebook. If my mother wouldn't approve of the content on my Facebook page, don't post it!
I fully enjoyed working at the TAG table. It was a great way to interact with professors at other campuses and learn about their research. I also had the opportunity to teach about Twitter and explain Facebook. These are things I couldn't do just a few short months ago.
Overall, the TLT was a great day. I look forward to next year and possibly taking a greater role in the festivities.
Funked has many cool links to the past if you read the original not in Pligg. The links never come through. Adds more to the story and thanks for your great support!!
PSU seemed to be the center of the universe during this past week. With many prominent figures on campus, I am fortunate to have seen one of the most intelligent, passionate, and inspiring speakers imaginable. His speech opened my eyes to the possibility of change, the need for change, and a proposed plan for a path to change. It is also worth noting that my new outlook is not unique, as nearly every other member of the capacity-level crowd has since expressed similar reactions.The funny thing is, I am not referring to Barack Obama. Nor am I referring to Bill Clinton. And I am certainly not referring to Jerome Bettis - wow, PSU really was the center of the universe last week! The speaker I am referring to is Lawrence Lessig, keynote speaker for the 2008 TLT Symposium. Lessig's presentation, which cleverly explained and explored digital creativity and its surrounding issues to, at times, John Phillips Sousa, writing, and Latin, has opened my eyes to need for an updated, intelligent revision of copyright law. Enter Creative Commons. Fortunately (and appropriately), Lessig has made his speech available to the PSU community, though this version omits some of the brilliance of the slideshow that is playing behind him (and Read My Lips is slightly out of sync, comprising the effect). I recommend you watch it in its entirety. While Lessig is awe-inspiring and worth more than what I have written thus far, I would like to dedicate this entry to the TLT Symposium itself and the community of which I am now a part. I am fortunate to have found my way into State College, then PSU, and then CI 597C, where I have met the awesome Cole Camplese and Scott McDonald. They have opened my eyes and mind to new resources and possibilities in the pedagogical process. One such resource was Saturday's symposium.I am part of Team Tweets, a group that selected Twitter as the technology to present. We selected Twitter because we had never heard of it, not quite aware of how much potential it would have. When Allan Gyorke sent his 8 Steps for the TLT Symposium that included the plea to use Twitter, we saw an opportunity for our class to actively use Twitter in their own teaching/learning experience at the symposium. I think we are all glad that we did!Several blog entries (John, Micala, Reginald, Renegade) have been posted expressing how Twitter helped enhance their symposium experience. They, as do I, credit Twitter and the sub-community it facilitated with making this conference more meaningful to us. I, while sitting in a session on Collaborative Techniques for First Year Seminars, was able to communicate with a new Twitter-friend who was in a session on Social Networking. While we were discussing the same topic and having an active conversation, it wasn't until about 30 minutes into the session that we realized we were in different rooms! Later, as I was fulfilling my responsibilities at the Tag Team Table, I met several nice people who had written their Twitter names on their name tags. I added my Twitter name and we struck up a nice conversation. In fact, we have still be following each other's tweets and I have even been following their blogs (hopefully you are following mine now, Micala and Reginald!). Twitter helped facilitate small talk -- or did it eliminate the awkwardness of it?These are just two of many observations and thoughts I have regarding Twitter and the new community to which I now belong. I need to save the rest for my discussion in class next week so that the class hears new material =)Another emerging issue is the awkwardness of using Twitter while attending a presentation -- be it lecture, session, etc. Is sacrificing eye contact with the facilitator worth the added benefits of discussing the lecture topic? For which parties is it beneficial: facilitator, participant, or both? What other challenges does a Meet & Tweet present?These and many others are issues we need to tackle as a group in addition to focusing on the positives of Twitter. "The group" includes CI597C as well as the new community who is hopefully following our class' blogs. Feel free to participate!For now, I need to change my copyrights to Creative Commons licenses!
The musical group Foreigner is staging a “Comeback Tour”. It is sponsored by the AARP. That got a big laugh during Leno’s headlines bit last night. I laughed too, but then it hit me hard. Things are going to be different. And it is not just about getting older. It is all about community identity and how it will be designed for us. I remember freedom, sorta.
As I am now a card-carrying member of the AARP (when did THAT happen?), I guess I should feel pretty good about the fact that I came back to school, overcame my “deer-in-the-headlights” terror over using such technologically sophisticated applications such as ANGEL, and relish the fact that I survived the first several weeks of CI597, and am carrying an A- average. In fact, I was a TAG-Team member at a teaching table for tech! Who-da thunk it two years ago? Then, I was teaching in a rural school with a 1970’s photocopier (where the whole top slid across) and a thin-client server for students to word process and grab a few references from the Internet. We had just upgraded to Windows 98. W00T!! (I know what that means now) So you can understand that after TLT, confidence was running high. In fact, my 23-year-old daughter who ran rings around me on her laptop 5 months ago now has voiced new respect for what her mother has become in the tech department. She and I talked for several hours Saturday night about Lessig’s keynote presentation and the sessions I attended. This gave me a chance to debrief with someone out in the world who had no previous perception of the Web 2.0 concept, yet has been operating in a virtual community of her peers for many years. All of her high school and college friends are scattered over the globe but she is as “up” on their lives as if they lived within shouting distance. Texting (a verb) is like breathing to these young people. As our discussion unfolded (3 hours), I grew more and more reflective and more quiet. Actually, disquiet. I began to fall into a funk. After Lessig, I am beginning to feel that the identity that I have is all funked up.
Let me try to explain. At the TLT I was walking with MY peers. Many of the faces on the other side of the TAG-Team table were of my vintage. If I had a dollar for every time I used the phrase, “If I can do it, you can too!”, I would be shopping at Wegman’s instead of Walmart. I was an AARP spokes-model for teaching with tech! The first workshop I attended was about networking non-traditional students. Most of the attendees were professors over 40. As I opened my spanking-new Macbook, the gals on either side of me marveled at how I hopped on line, opened Twitter and began communication with the “outside world”. I even impressed myself. I explained about Team Tweet and what the class was doing. I felt like a kid again. That is, until the presenter mentioned Battlestar Gallatica and I was thinking…W00T W00T! I know that show! My shout out became a little woooo when he stated that most of the students and even many professors in college today have never hand cranked a window in a car...And so it began…
You have to understand why the blue funk is happening. I get what Lessig was saying. I STUDIED LATIN in 1971. Junior High. It was that or French, the universal language of the world. Latin was archaic, only churches and taxonomists spoke it, and the “educated” were expected to be able to at least score high on an SAT verbal by knowing rootwords of Latin. . At least Latin helped me with my verbal scores enough to get me into college. That class and Catholic high school taught me that mastering the romance languages was tantamount to being judged as successful in this world. That was then.
Lessig was right on, of course. Even in 1971, Latin was out as a referent of social status, and poor spelling, grammar, and syntax became the criteria that labeled a person as beneath the status quo, poorer, less worthy. Why, if you could not write, you may as well prepare to dig ditches or work in a factory. You could not go to college. And, back then, that was ok because there were many factory jobs and ditches to be dug. There were choices and freedom to choose. The masses from the other side of town dug the phone lines and sewer drains, and I, the first of my family to choose to college, became the elite, the worthy. College was penultimate. In the world, I was saluted for my accomplishment. My Father wanted no part of an uppity college kid. My less fortunate sister (did not go to college due to lack of money) considered me privileged, above her. She made me pay for my new status by disconnecting herself from my life. I have never thought about how my success with language played out culturally in a community where oral history, family, and no formal education determined whether you remained in a group or not. Yet we still had choices. For while. My Mother was forced to go to college at 45 years of age to keep her job, and my sister obtained her BS at 43 for the same reason. The choices were narrowing based upon the cultural requirements of credential.
I share all of this because I believe that to fully realize what Lessig and open cultural creativity means to society as we know it, we need to fully understand how the culture was/is and how it affected/affects real lives. We also need to accept that people my age and older who still preside over institutions and lawmaking bodies will have the philosophical mindset that knowledge is the property of the elite. IT will still be for sale. IT will still come from hallowed halls. When I talked with age-appropriate AARP peers at the TLT, I was ever-conscious that I should be on the professor side of the table at this stage of my life. The fact that I am again a student and know what I know without the benefit of credentialed bully pulpit to share or apply it, I realized that I am funked. In order to get the paper that credentials me I need to trade in the intellectual capital of the elite, not the pop culture of the Web 2.0 masses.
Viewing this through practitioner filters, I am still funked, as my students of the masses will need to pass standardized testing in the “newlatin”. Science is writing, math is writing, better readers make better writers. My students cannot even write in their home languages-Spanish, African American Vernacular English, Euro-centro American Rude Language (I made that one up=teen talk). Politico-cultural barriers are widening the gap between the haves and have nots, and the design of the community forges the identity. I my mind, the oppression is no longer about internet access, or socio-economic status. NCLB, high def cable boxes in every home or no more free (uh, speech)TV, consumer tracking labels, Web 2.0 archiving, copyright laws, changing the constitution….the funking deepens.
I hear Larry Lessig. My daughter hears Larry Lessig. Larry brands himself as a pessimist. I agree. With what community may I identify? With what community should YOU identify? If the masses gain access to cultural trading capital, then culture evolves and we all know what we need to know for leveraging control of our lives. If the elite maintain control of the cultural creativity and we stop knowing…IT will be one Grand Funk (old referent...not the Railroad).
Oh Cole (Mr. Orwell) I hope you were not right about Soylent Green….
All: This article is not only interesting, but also features our favorite--Psuedo-Simon Andrew Keen!