This week we are experimenting with a different format for the post. Follow this link for the slideshow.
February 2010 Archives
In our daily life, there are some devices made from designer's special consideration, but sometimes the special part will confuse consumers a lot. For example, there is a revolving door at the library, and we can not figure out the purpose of that door, for slow down steps? for fun? or other purposes? Norman has raised a question that why do we as consumers put up with these complicated designs that lead to more headaches than they solve? Is this because the complex design of the tool we are using makes us look like we are intelligent?
In relationg this to classroom, we could think about two questions:
1. How a classroom should be designed?
- Could a more comfortable learning environment promote learning? Can we have more ergonomic classroom designs? Does it somewhat fit into Maslow's two basic needs- physiological and safety needs? There is a pie chart as reference that even colors also influence students psychologically.
2. How the material (e.g. lesson plan, worksheet, activity, etc.) used could enhance student learning?
- Is material design similar to everyday things design? Whose needs should be taken care? What components should be considered and could be related to our articles?
Team 1 Response - Design
For this week's submission, we created a Webspiration map. It looks great, but there is one problem - publishing it is cumbersome and unclear (bad design!).
To view our map without the notes/links enabled: Team 1 map
To view our full map, go to: Webspiration
and type in the following:
username: team 1 guest
Go to Launch Webspiration - then to Recently Opened
You will get a message that says that you are just a viewer - click okay and then you can scroll around to see our map.
To see the text associated with our map, see below!
Elements of design
-Users need to be able to see what their options are and perceive what the outcomes of their actions will be. To do so, there should be a visible structure and clue which "indicates what parts operate and how the user is to interact with the device" (Norman, 1990, p. 8). Norman's door example illustrates that the designer should provide signals for users to recognize the operation of the object in a visual way.
See our bad design section below to view a counter example.
-Users receive immediate information about what action has been done and its result. By receiving feedback, users can tell that they are operating in an appropriate and proper way.
-When they don't receive feedback, users are left wondering if they accomplished what it was that they wanted to accomplish. The lack of immediate feedback makes it impossible to interpret the perceived actions of the device. Lack of feedback also prevents users from correcting/modifying their actions for future use.
-Mapping is the relationship between two things: what you want to do and what appears to be possible. In order to accomplish good design, those relationships should be natural and intuitive. The relationship between controls and actions need to be apparent to the user.
-If mapping is visible, clearly related to the desired outcome, and provides immediate feedback, it will be easily learned and remembered (Norman, 1990).
- In the description of his refrigerator, Norman introduces what often presents a hurdle to understanding design: lack of clear conceptual model. The directions for the thermostat of a refrigerator were easier than the actual process of using the thermostat. This concept relates to Argyris' Theories of Action. The contradiction of theory of action versus the theory in use, which establishes the difference between how something is justified/explained and what is actually going on (Argyris 1957, 1962, 1964).
-In educational research, we experience Theories of Action when interviewing subjects for a study, for example teachers. The way they might describe their teaching might be vastly different than what we observe when we are in their classroom. This contradiction problematizes our study, just like it problematizes operating the refrigerator thermostat.
-Apple products are often considered well-designed because their conceptual models allow them to contain visible clues to their operation. We can easily predict the effects of our actions when using these products.
-Bad design perpetuates when useless/confusing things become reified and remain as part of the design despite their problems. For example, the "R" button on Don Norman's phone at the Applied Psychology Unit in Cambridge (p. 21). The designer of the phone could not even explain what it was there for.
Examples of bad design
Our team looked at a few videos of Don Norman speaking about design. The below video seems very related to the Design of Everyday Things reading:
We thought the very beginning of this summed up much about design when he says "You have to design for the people." The salt and pepper shaker example shows that we have to consider what we are designing for, and who will be using it. It doesn't matter which one you think is salt... it matters which one the person who filled it thinks is salt. The idea of WHO you're designing for also relates to our discussions on community. If only one person interprets the use of an artifact (or its affordances) in a certain way, others will either not know how to use the artifact, or will be frustrated because it does not work the way they expect it to (if they identify different affordances). In a way, the community negotiates and determines what is good design.
When we negotiate meanings within our community, we are communicating with the social system. So when we interpret the use of an artifact, we are under influence of the social system, our community. Other members' interpretation and norms of the community both play a role in the process of our negotiation of meaning. If affordances cannot be visible and compatible to the social system it is hard to diffuse in the social system. That's why a designer has to at least understand the social system for his/her designs. This is proved by many famous popular creative inventions that they are compatible to social norms, human psychological models, or physical customs.
- Are there social norms to help identify affordances and the meanings of those affordances(one hole and many holes)? What are the affordances of the shakers that contribute or not contribute to the negotiation of meanings?
- What are the everyday things of the learning environment? How have they been optimized for their purpose? Consider the affordances of a blackboard. Its writing surface is high-contrast. It's easy to erase. Chalk is cheap, and even when it breaks it still works. It does one thing very well. Now consider a "smartboard". Would a typical student know what to do without any training if a teacher called her to the front of the class to demonstrate a concept? At what point do the affordances of such technologies actually start to counteract their value? Chalk can't change colors, but it also doesn't run out of batteries. What is the process of diffusion of such an innovation as a smartboard through a typical school district, and is it always consistent with improving learning, or are there other factors (prestige, etc.)?
A personal example from Yunjeong relating design and affordances to community- In my first year of ph.d here at Penn State, I was surprised that almost all computers in our school lab were Mac rather than pc. I feel alienated because I didn't have a Mac at that time and didn't know how to use it. Finally I got a Mac and was worried about if I could use it well. I didn't read any manual but I finally came to use it with ease. Now I feel more like being a Penn State student (sounds funny though) and belonging to this community.
Related to learning, we thought about the conversation we had in class about a constructivist way of teaching math. In the past, we memorized the times tables; even if given explanations of the multiplication rules, most students just memorized the tables. It's faster to see learning outcomes when a student can correctly repeat the answer to a multiplication question from memory. Compared with memorization, constructivist teaching on math takes a longer period of time to see the learning outcome. Parents may think this is less effective to learn math so that may hope schools could abandon this new teaching paradigm. This could be an example of difficulty with diffusion of the innovation because the community is not willing to accept the change.
Our group also talked a bit about the idea of what Norman calls the technology paradox. In the reading, Norman emphasizes the importance of usability, meaning a design is for people to use. Usability is extremely important. But, of course, aesthetics and cost are also put into consideration. Norman calls it as technology paradox. In his later work, including "Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things" Norman's studies showed that things work "better" when they're attractive. More on that topic in the following video (it's a bit long, but you can get the general idea by just watching a few minutes).
This paradox does not only happen in the design industry but also in educational contexts. Take For example, in language learning, there are a lot of language games to be used in class that can be found online. However, not every game reinforces learning outcomes. Even those who do not aim at having fun could turn out bringing fun to class more than improving learning outcomes.
Questions we asked ourselves:
- How do affordances and aesthetics interact?
- Does a "beautiful" item appear to have more affordances? Are more affordances better?
- How do simplicity, affordances, and aesthetics interact?
think "beauty" in educational design related to play. i.e. making a
design beautiful is akin to making it fun, and something someone would
want to "play" with. Play is a very important part of discovery. So if
we're designing objects, tools, etc. for learning, we should ensure
that they are aesthetically pleasing (to get attention, create positive
feelings about it) and conducive to play, to ensure students are
motivated to engage with it, engage with it emotionally, and use their
creativity to discover its affordances so that the full learning
potential is realized. If
we can make discovery "fun", students are emotionally more engaged.
Beauty (or Fun) can be related to motivation. Motivation is important
in learning that makes the learning environment more sustainable.
- Scott's talk
- Building searches
- Bookmark on delicious
- Is there such a thing as shared identity?
- How is it different than community?
- What does it mean to be an intellectual mash-up artist?
- Is there a "core" identity that we have that is somehow community independent? How easy is it to change your identity?
- Brokering is something that makes us valuable from one community to another. We are all brokers to some degree. Is one of the ways we recognize boundaries (and communities) by their reaction (interaction) to/with us around the same information (boundary objects)?
- If we (as teacher) ask students to participate in ways that are in conflict with their "core" identity in order to become part of a community of practice is that ethical?
- Often Wenger's notions of communties of practice are interpreted as a theory that indicates some kind of reform of classrooms as they are not "authentic" communities of practice. If not, then what are they?
- [Related to the above are the issues with the apprenticeship model - teachers are not practitioners of the field they are teaching to their students, we may want students to have learnings and experiences that are in areas that they will not be direct participating members in so that they can make other civically important decisions (not all school needs to be something that students will "use" directly).]
- Team 1 - March 3
- Team 2 - March 30
- Team 3 - April 6
- Team 4 - April 13
This week, we watched a YouTube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiV7OycDpUQ) and commented on it via various kinds of identities that we are/might be holding.
The questions are as these:
Q1. Pause at 0:02. What does the image tell you? Anything interesting, surprising, confusing, or it's just a scene that doesn't mean anything?
Q2. Pause at 0:18. If you were the teacher, what would you do? Why?
Q3. Pause at 0:25. Was teacher's reaction striking? Why or why not? If you were the parent, what would you do? Why?
Q4. Pause at 0:55. Can you guess the ending?
Q5. Pause at 0:58. Do you want to change your ending prediction? If yes, what's it?
Q6. During watching the clip, how many identities did you take on? (e.g. nationality, ethnicity, title, position, jobs, membership of a family, a community, a society, etc.) Did they show up one at a time? Or did they show up simultaneously and somehow make you have a second thought?
The questions were designed to seek for a more diverse conversation among the group members and, hopefully, to reflect on this week's reading of Wenger on community.
The questions were designed to seek for a more diverse conversation among the group members and, hopefully, to reflect on this week's reading of Wenger on community.
You can't learn just from reifications.
You can't learn just from reifications.
You can't learn only from artifacts.
You can't learn only from artifacts.
You need to learn by living in the world, by being a member of a community of practice, by participating.
You need to learn by living in the world, by being a member of a community of practice, by participating.
Wenger argues that "the required learning takes place not so much through the reification of a curriculum as through modified forms of participation that are structured to open the practice to nonmembers" (100). Nonmembers can become members through peripheries. "The idea is to offer them various forms of casual but legitimate access to a practice without subjecting them to the demands of full membership. This kind of peripherality can include observation, but it can also go beyond mere observation and involve actual forms of engagement (117). Ideally, the periphery practices would grant them a chance to shift from "dismissal, neglect, or exclusion"(101) to legitimate participation to the community. When watching the video, one of us observed that every student was looking down when the teacher lectured/instructed. This led to a thought whether those students really understood or were learning or were they "participating"? Simply judging by the video, this is in contrast to Wegner who says that learning happens by participation. However, taking the culture differences into consideration, we should ask ourselves this question: "What is participation?" Here, let's take a look at the context of the video. It is in an Asian (Japanese, to be precise.) school. In most Asian schools, the teacher is perceived as the top authority who does the most initiation for questions that are supposed to be answered with respect by students, and then the answer would be judged by the teacher again. Students' main role in the classroom is to listen attentively and understand the lecture. Students' silence is expected and encouraged as a sign of respect for their teachers and classmates; it may indicate students' attentive listening and active thinking, which means that their mind is occupied by thinking that they cannot speak. Unless being expected, or ordered to speak up, students are supposed to be quiet in class, listen, and take notes. Even direct eye contact could be a signal of a challenge against the authority. Now, are they learning through participation? Can we still see the community of practice when there's no obvious mutual engagement, joint enterprise, and/or shared repertoire? In a classroom, isn't everyone, with the exception of the teacher, in the same boat? It could be assumed that all the students are part of the periphery, but the periphery of what? Of what community? When are students asked to become part of an established community of practice? Wenger argues that being a member of the community involves "active involvement in social enterprises" (55). However, he also argues that participation is a personal and social act, and that it can include physical, mental, and social relations. It does not make sense to argue that on one hand the activity is personal and then dictate how that personal relationship should be manifested. It is similar to telling a student to be creative and interpret a problem based on their understanding of it; then when he/she presents the final output you fail the student for not being in the way you hope. (Just as the video clip showed.) Wenger's argument of duality of participation is recognized, but his rigid definition of participation does require a deeper reconsideration. Another interesting finding in our discussion of the clip is that most people in our group saw "an issue (or several of them)" as a parent, a teacher, a student whereas one of us watched "a video" as an outsider, i.e. audience. Rarely had the attention paid to things other than the story itself. The video was shown to a bunch of undergraduate ESL students. Several of them guessed the ending in a very different way due to the influence of the 'movie effects' such as the background music (it might be a ghost story), the color tone of the video (horror movie, psycho movie), or the title of the movie (it sells something). In this case, who is periphery in this community of viewing YouTube?
Wenger argues that "the required learning takes place not so much through the reification of a curriculum as through modified forms of participation that are structured to open the practice to nonmembers" (100). Nonmembers can become members through peripheries. "The idea is to offer them various forms of casual but legitimate access to a practice without subjecting them to the demands of full membership. This kind of peripherality can include observation, but it can also go beyond mere observation and involve actual forms of engagement (117). Ideally, the periphery practices would grant them a chance to shift from "dismissal, neglect, or exclusion"(101) to legitimate participation to the community.
When watching the video, one of us observed that every student was looking down when the teacher lectured/instructed. This led to a thought whether those students really understood or were learning or were they "participating"?
Simply judging by the video, this is in contrast to Wegner who says that learning happens by participation.
However, taking the culture differences into consideration, we should ask ourselves this question: "What is participation?"
Here, let's take a look at the context of the video. It is in an Asian (Japanese, to be precise.) school. In most Asian schools, the teacher is perceived as the top authority who does the most initiation for questions that are supposed to be answered with respect by students, and then the answer would be judged by the teacher again. Students' main role in the classroom is to listen attentively and understand the lecture. Students' silence is expected and encouraged as a sign of respect for their teachers and classmates; it may indicate students' attentive listening and active thinking, which means that their mind is occupied by thinking that they cannot speak. Unless being expected, or ordered to speak up, students are supposed to be quiet in class, listen, and take notes. Even direct eye contact could be a signal of a challenge against the authority.
Now, are they learning through participation? Can we still see the community of practice when there's no obvious mutual engagement, joint enterprise, and/or shared repertoire?
In a classroom, isn't everyone, with the exception of the teacher, in the same boat? It could be assumed that all the students are part of the periphery, but the periphery of what? Of what community? When are students asked to become part of an established community of practice?
Wenger argues that being a member of the community involves "active involvement in social enterprises" (55). However, he also argues that participation is a personal and social act, and that it can include physical, mental, and social relations. It does not make sense to argue that on one hand the activity is personal and then dictate how that personal relationship should be manifested. It is similar to telling a student to be creative and interpret a problem based on their understanding of it; then when he/she presents the final output you fail the student for not being in the way you hope. (Just as the video clip showed.) Wenger's argument of duality of participation is recognized, but his rigid definition of participation does require a deeper reconsideration.
Another interesting finding in our discussion of the clip is that most people in our group saw "an issue (or several of them)" as a parent, a teacher, a student whereas one of us watched "a video" as an outsider, i.e. audience. Rarely had the attention paid to things other than the story itself. The video was shown to a bunch of undergraduate ESL students. Several of them guessed the ending in a very different way due to the influence of the 'movie effects' such as the background music (it might be a ghost story), the color tone of the video (horror movie, psycho movie), or the title of the movie (it sells something).
In this case, who is periphery in this community of viewing YouTube?
As a team our ideas about identity have been adjusted and adapted after reading Wenger this week. We have looked into what it means to be part of a community and what that means for the identity we possess in a certain situation. Identity is formed as much by a community as it is by the individual. As part of our post this week, we have proposed a few questions for which we are interested in hearing the class' response.
class, we have often struggled with how an individual actually becomes a part
of a community. Gee's examples of the "real Indian" or being
accepted as a gang member highlight the idea of boundaries that Wenger
explicates. Gee says that to become a real Indian, one can't just take it
upon himself to join this Discourse by adapting his identity appropriately.
Membership requires participation and recognition by others, and as
Wenger points out, has a temporal component in that it is a continuous
negotiation with a community, never existing as a fixed state. Boundaries
between membership and non-membership, in this sense, may be a
"fuzzy" thing, but they are reified by the artifacts and ideas that a
community establishes. To use another Gee example, gang members dress and
speak a certain way, and even develop real, physical boundaries around their
territory. But boundary objects exist that share common usage between
communities and can be vectors for one to cross a boundary into a community.
Fighting can be seen as both participation in a gang as well as a
reification in that a gang can be known for fighting. But it may also be
an opportunity for an outsider to gain respect and cross the boundary into
membership into the gang. While a radical transformation of identity may
not be possible at this point, one's prior life might be seen in a new light,
or even forgotten to the extent that is necessary to "create continuity in
our lives" (Wenger, p88). Or, short of total assimilation of
identity into a single community, one may become a broker, bridging the
multiple communities. How do
boundaries affect our ability to learn from other communities? What
affordances of online communities help to create boundaries? ..establish
brokers? ..adapt our identity or use boundary objects to cross over into
communities? How can these affordances improve or hinder students in a
modern learning environment?
Wenger talks about identity in relation to community and participation, saying that "participation is a source of remembering and forgetting... through the fashioning of identities and thus through our need to recognize ourselves in our past. ...We subsume these memories and their interpretations under the fashioning of a trajectory that we (as well as others) can construe as being one person." (p88) He also indicates that identity exists as part of a relationship with others "Our identities become anchored in each other and what we do together." We spent some time in the last Identity segment discussing the idea of "core identity" as Gee describes it (p34) or "meta identity", described by Camplese and McDonald. "With the rise of multiple online identities, users must now be cognizant of the notion of a meta identity that is shaped by the publicly available aggregate of these online social environments." Our readings all seem to support that people have multiple socially-situated identities (both online and in-person). Is there really one fully "core" identity? Can identity exist without community? Is it possible to have 2 identities that are in conflict with each other?
Wenger states that "Membership [in a community of practice] is not just a matter of social category, declaring allegiance, belonging to an organization, having a title, or having personal relations with some people (p. 74)." There is much more involved in being part of a particular community. This has an effect on the identity of the people involved in the community. There must be some common part of a person's identity shared with another person in order for them to be part of a community. Identity is shaped by the interactions between these people as well as those that are not part of the community. Wenger also mentions "In the process of sustaining a practice, we become invested in what we do as well as in each other and our shared history (p.89)." Identity is not only shaped by what we do as individuals but what we do together and what has already been done before. This is important to consider when thinking about students. How does the way a student acts in class effect the identity of that student? If identity is created through mutual engagement and external power does not drive the force of creation, then in the classroom, how can a teacher help students to form their identity of community? Is it necessary for a teacher to facilitate the process?)
Wenger described identity as a negotiated product. The community defines the identity itself and it is a continuing process rather than a fixed state. This idea seems to be different from what Gee describes. Gee says that we are what we say and do and your identity has to be recognized by members in the same Discourse and yourself. Recognition is key to identity so you have to say or do what enables you to be recognized by that identity. While Wegner emphasizes the importance of doing things together being negotiated, it is mutual engagement that brings identity to the community. On the contrary, there is also something in common between the two. One cannot just "wear" an identity badge and proclaim you own that identity. One has to participate in the community to attain membership. In addition, external power could influence the formation of identity, but it could not post an identity upon a community.
Wenger claims that learning is central to human identity and considers learning as social participation. Individuals are active participants in the practices of social communities and their identities are constructed through the communities. From this understanding, it can be said that a group of individuals participate in communal activity, and continuously create their shared identity through engaging in and contributing to the practices of their communities. If an identity is constructed through interaction by other members of a community, what would his/her previous identity look like before joining the community? Which one can be his/her real identity?
Aaron: Wenger describes identity as our ability and our inability to shape the meanings that define our communities and our forms of belonging (p.145). This includes our practices, our languages, our artifacts, our actions, our statements, and our world views which reflect our social relations that make up our identity. I like how Wenger defines identity as a relation between the local and the global. I think this aspect of identity can be tied to teaching because when we teach we sometimes are engaging our students to pursue an enterprise or a common goal but we are also encouraging them to view their engagement on a much broader scale by viewing the whole picture. Wenger also makes a good point that we produce our identities through the practices we engage in, but we also define ourselves through the practices that we do not engage in. (p.164). While he states that it is impossible that we could identify ourselves with everyone and everything we meet, failure to engage and participate in activities could have an effect on our identity. Wenger lists six sources of participation and non-participation through which define our identities. They are: 1) how we locate ourselves in a social landscape, 2) what we care about and what we neglect, 3) what we attempt to know and understand and what we choose to ignore, 4) with whom we seek connections and whom we avoid, 5) how we engage and direct our energies, 6) how we attempt to steer our trajectories.
I believe the first three aspects can either make or break, and by break I mean destroy, our identity. If all teachers at the school I was to teach at are required to participate actively in their school community by helping out with school functions and I choose not to participate in the functions, how does that affect my identity? Since I am neglecting to participate in the functions will fellow teachers view me differently? Will they view me as someone who doesn't care about the school and its functions? How does this affect me? Perhaps when we are involved with a community and we are shaping our identity through our interactions with our community we need to step back and view our identity through the eyes of someone on the outside or as Wenger calls it, imagination. Through imagination we can redefine our identity and take on new practices and enterprises that can reshape our identity.
Nicole: I appreciate the way in which Wenger's book, as it progresses, describes the elements of community of practice to further our understandings and our established definitions from earlier in the module. For example, the geographic observation that we made, that an individual's proximity was not necessary to belong to a certain community, was affirmed: "Neither is geographic proximity sufficient to develop a practice" (1998, p. 74). In addition to confirming our understandings, Wenger also offers additional layers. For example, in this section he establishes that in participation, mutual relationships and engagement do not have to be homogeneous or something that is readily agreed upon. "Disagreement, challenges, and competition can all be forms of participation" (1998, p. 77). This works toward answering our class question, what does it take to be a participant in a community?
Wenger's idea of discontinuity, even in reifications, and the relationships between older and newer generations is important. The idea that changes in practice occur, just like changes in members of a community occur, prompts readers to see community as something living and breathing, constantly changing and evolving. I think that this is important because it broadens the idea of what a community might be, eliminating formal or rigidly established groups or organizations from the mix. I also think the idea of discontinuity answers the question of why people always think that the current decade or period of time is worse than the last or why old-timers (to use Wenger's term) say that the world is much more corrupt now than when they were younger. Is this assumption merely a product of the old-timers' practices being pushed out because new practices are necessary for the community's survival?
The idea of discontinuity prompts me to think about how new-comers also deal with their participation in a community. Wenger's idea of legitimate peripheral participation (1998, p. 100) was especially curious to me. The difficulty noted in the data processing firm from the "classroom" to the execution of the job (p. 98) mirrors the transformation of pre-service teachers from student to educator. This is a phenomenon that I, as a pre-service supervisor, witness first hand. Pre-service teachers are just beginning to learn the true ways of practice of the community of educators - from lesson planning to interacting with administrative members, much of what they learn in their pre-service experience, even things that they don't realize are as important as they are (for example, what to wear) fall into the category of legitimate peripheral participation. Their identities are in flux because they are bridging the worlds of student and teacher. In terms of identity, I wonder what that makes me... a broker (Wenger, 1998, p. 110)?
Michelle: Two of the things in the Wenger reading for this week that really stood out to me were the discussion of the formation of identity through participation and the notion of brokering. Wenger talks about identity in terms of participation in Chapter 3. One statement that he made that I found very interesting was: "Our identities become anchored in each other and what we do together. As a result, it is not easy to become a radically new person in the same community of practice. Conversely, it is not easy to transform oneself without the support of a community" (p. 89). In thinking more about this, I believe that I agree with Wenger. We certainly can have very different identities in our different communities of practice, but it really is difficult to totally change our established identity within one community of practice. For example, if I were to change my identity from teacher educator to gang member (certainly a radical change) within the community of my PhD program, I am pretty sure that I would no longer be welcome as a member of that community of practice. The radical change in identity might necessitate a move on my part from one community of practice to another where my new identity would be accepted and valued. Wenger does state, however, that relationships within communities of practice can be conflicting as well as harmonious and competitive as well as cooperative, so I wonder if a change in identity really would necessitate that I leave my original community of practice. Perhaps a less radical change would allow me to stay within the community, but move me to its periphery.
Wenger's discussion of brokering in Chapter 4 was also extremely interesting to me because I actually feel like this is a role that I fit into, to some extent, in my current situation. As we all know, we can participate in more than one community at once and, according to Wenger, "our experience of multimembership always has the potential of creating various forms of continuity among them" (p. 105). I am currently both teacher and student at once- participating in both communities of practice within the same institution. Wenger describes brokering as "the use of multimembership to transfer some element of one practice into another" (p. 109). This semester I am co-teaching a class for pre-service teachers with my advisor and I feel that I am brokering my identity of teacher with my identity of student, combining the two and using one to influence the other at different times. This brokering, I believe, allows my students to identify more closely with me than they do with the "official" teacher of the course (my advisor). I am able to bring elements of being a student into my practice of being a teacher and the students respond positively to this by coming to me first to ask questions or for advice related to a class assignment. I am not, however, a student in their class. I am also not the instructor of record for the course, so I experience the phenomenon that Wenger mentions of belonging at the same time to both practices and neither (p. 109). This is sometimes a difficult position to be in because I am not seen by the students as the final "authority figure" of the course, nor am I seen as their peer. I am trying to figure out how to operate effectively in that gray area and bridge the two communities, both for my students and for myself. I realize that my students will also begin to go through this same process as they transition from solely students into students who are also teaching (during field experiences) and then into being solely teachers. As a broker I can (hopefully) help them through this process and make the transition somewhat smooth for them.
Sydney: Wenger focuses on identity as a mutual constitution between individuals and collectivities (p. 146). Our identity not only shapes our communities and our forms of belonging but also is the shaped by belonging to a social community. It is a two way street. Up to this point, I understood that "belonging to a community" in terms of identity construction requires a member of a community to be actively paticipating in and to have a strong bond among the members, however, my understanding changed when Wenger brought up that non-participation is as much a source of identity as participation (p. 164). From my experience, even though I belong to a new community as a Penn State student in the U.S., I don't feel "truly" engaged in and participated in this community. I still feel much distance between where I am from and where I am. Thus, I kept wondering if I am a real member of this community and my identity is shaped by this community even though I feel I don't much participate here. As a way to answer the question that keeps bothering me, Wenger describes that boundary relations between multimembership can bring the coexisting identities of participation and non-participation (p. 168). That is, being in one community implies being outside in other community. This might cause non-participation as compromise and it is also a defining constituent of participation. Wenger's notion of identity clarifies that identity is constructed through our ongoing negotiated experience of being members in communities by both participation and non-participation in interrelated ways.
The point of convergence among all of our responses is the importance of identity and how it allows us to negotiate our memberships within our communities. Aaron and Sydney point to the idea that identity shapes the way in which we participate in a community. They also note Wenger's assertion that identities can be shaped by non-participation in a community, as well as by participation. Michelle and Nicole focus on the idea of how members can bridge more than one identity and community membership (i.e. teacher educator and student). Both conversations add to the dialogue of identity as seminal to communities of practice. Might we suggest that the discontinuity inherent in a community's practice mirrors the transformation that the identity of the community's members experience? In other words, just like a community's practice is fluid, so are the members' identities. Identities can be changed at any time by the amount of participation or non-participation a member puts forward into their community. Wenger states that at times it is appropriate to step back from a community and take a look at how we fit into that community from the outside through imagination. Imagination allows us to redefine our identity and take on new practices and enterprises that can reshape our identity. This transformation and reshaping of identity then becomes part of the process of reification within a community.
Once again I will be solo, so Tweeting out to Cole would be appreciated.
Last week we had synthesis, so what came up was not as much about the new readings as it was about you synthesis of core ideas so far. Given that we are going to dig into come of the readings and lay out some questions to guide us forward as we get deeper into Wenger's world (not at all like Elmo's).
We are also going to look a little at data visualizations. We are not quite to the stage of having completely one button data visualization, like we do with text on the web, but the day is coming. Specifically, we will look at:
One thing that came up in the blog posting and comments that you should keep in mind is the affordances of these representation. Many commented that Team 1's visualization for this week was not very helpful in helping to understand their thinking, though Team 1 indicated it helped them develop their thinking. This goes to two issues connected to our readings, Pea's notion of distributed intelligence, and Wenger's idea of reification (and eventually boundary objects). What role does reification play in a community? How about across communities?
No schedule today, we will have a break when we need one. See you in class.
Readings for next week: Wenger (continued) p. 72-133 (Community, Learning, Boundary, and Locality).
Team 2 posted some great videos for this week (thanks!), and I wanted to add by posting an updated version of the Did You Know? video.
There are several statements within the 95th theses that seem to complement Wenger's chapter on identity and are perhaps illustrative of the views of community from the authors we have read so far.
34. To speak with a human voice, companies must share the concerns of their communities.
This implies that there needs to be a level of common interests and regard for the people that create the community. In an education setting our focus needs to be on the students. We need to understand their perspective, their needs, their weaknesses, and how to navigate those concerns to enable and empower them to achieve greater things. We should put ourselves 'in their shoes' to understand their concerns. What do you want me to hear when I listen/observe/participate with you? How do you want this to inform me? Are you clear about your expectations of this communication? This is what I am hearing- was this your intention? What aren't you telling me? What do you want me to do with this information? By understanding how they view education in our classroom, we can better educate them.
38. Human communities are based on discourse--on human speech
about human concerns.
Human discourse is a powerful tool for the building of communities. It's the association and communication of thoughts ideas, practices, and beliefs that draw people together to form communities. Wegner speaks of organizations fostering learning by
sustaining communities of practice that make up the organization. Likewise,
cluetrain talks of the need for companies to resist the urge of organizing from
top down, but rather letting the community organize themselves and create their
95. We are waking up and linking to each other. We are watching. But we are not waiting.
Learning happens regardless of the structure we impose upon education. Wegner argues that learning happens as a result of participation in community, and that learning
is not something that is separate from the "real world" or only happens during special time set aside for education. Along these lines, the cluetrain manifesto talks about the power of the communities formed of network connected people. Cluetrain is arguing for the power of participation in communities.
We are constantly seeking out opportunities to engage in the kind of learning that makes us valuable to the communities we interact with. Engagement provides meaning through practice, practice informs perception, perceptions define experience and significance.
The glaring similarity and commonality between Gee, Wenger and the The Cluetrain Manifesto is the need to decentralize the creation of conversations that form community, identity, and design. All authors seem at first glance to argue for a need of a more egalitarian approach to not just learning and business but daily life. A closer look though may also lead one to conclude that they are not necessarily arguing for anarchy rather for more access to the creation process of the environment, a decolonization and a redefining of the roles. The question becomes whether or not such an egalitarian approach is possible? Can a the role of the teacher as an authority figure in the classroom ever really be eliminated? Can a community ever be a community if it does not have a leader? Lastly, can disruptive technologies fully be integrated into learning if their aim is to destroy the status quo and would they remain disruptive if integrated into learning?
We "spiced" up our thinking about community for this week. Click on the nodes to get to the next level(s) and see what we thought about Wenger and the 95 Theses. You can also drag the nodes around for easier viewing.
If you have trouble viewing it here, this URL also links to our map:
Wenger states that practice is a process that we engage and experience the world which includes the negotiation of meaning through participation and reification.
Online social networks are an interesting example of the interplay between participation and reification, and embody at their core the negotiation that happens between the two to produce meaning for their users. Clearly, there is a strong element of participation in social networks. In Facebook, participation can come in many forms: wall posts, tagging pictures of friends, playing multiplayer games. In fact, the process of "friending" someone, of negotiating that relationship and making a decision about whether or not it meets some threshold of meaningfulness to you such that you reify the relationship in a friend request or confirmation. This process of friending, or of building ones social graph, is indeed a perfect example of reification. It is the quintessential representation of participation in the social networking world. The social graph illustrates, in stark visual terms, all the relationships that constitute one's socially situated identity, of the community one chooses to identify with.
Profile on MySpace would be another example of a representation of identity including photos, background, music, description of background and so on. This is an example of reification that we can assume a person's identity from the profile page and it is often the source we start reading one's blog or sending out our friend request.
However, Wenger points out that a reification is often an imperfect codification of participation, and that is certainly the case with the social graph in Facebook and also with the profile page on MySpace. There might be a discrepancy between identities once you read more tweets and blog entries, start chatting, making comments and receiving responses back, and so on.
In case of social graph in Facebook, complex relationships which at some level might involve rich emotional interaction are reduced to lists and numbers. In some online environments, you can even rank order your friends, or pick "top friends". This short list is no doubt hotly negotiated, with its four or five lucky members changing at the moment by moment whim of its owner. Wenger also points out how meaning can become distorted if there is too much focus on either participation or reification. Again, the social graph illustrates an example of how reification, the process of representing one's participation in a community, can become so oversimplified that it exists almost independently of participation, or at least such that actual participation is an afterthought in the formation of the graph. This can be seen when members of a social networking site like Facebook compete for the largest number of "friends". The state of being popular, which once reflected at least some superficial qualities of one's personality, can be reduced to a hyper-focus on building one's social graph by obsessively clicking friend invites. Another example of this can be seen in the site "LinkdIn" which consist almost entirely of build one's professional graph and often seems devoid of any participation at all.
* Theses 6,12, 34,35,66
-The Internet is enabling conversations among human beings that were simply not possible in the era of mass media.
-There are no secrets. The networked market knows more than companies do about their own products. And whether the news is good or bad, they tell everyone.
-To speak with a human voice, companies must share the concerns of their communities. But first, they must belong to a community.
- As markets, as workers, both of us are sick to death of getting our information by remote control. Why do we need faceless annual reports and third-hand market research studies to introduce us to each other?
The Clutrain Maifesto focuses on the rising need for businesses to communicate with other businesses, communities, and individuals who invest in their products and services. The Internet has made this communication much more accessible. The smart businesses will find a way to utilize this communication tool to make their businesses better.
* Theses 34-40:
- To speak with a human voice, companies must share the concerns of their communities.
- But first, they must belong to a community.
- Companies must ask themselves where their corporate cultures end.
- If their cultures end before the community begins, they will have no market.
- Human communities are based on discourse--on human speech about human concerns.
- The community of discourse is the market.
- Companies that do not belong to a community of discourse will die.
Market is a place where people communicate, exchange and negotiate. Essentially, any company that denies that it is part of a community, or does not attempt to be part of a community will be unsuccessful. People value interaction and genuine discourse, so a successful company must both belong to a community, but actively participate in a way that the community acknowledges and values that company as a part of the community. What can we do to belong to a community, then? It goes without a question that our social activities and productions need meanings, negotiated ones because it represents our human engagement in the world (p.53). However, if we do not belong to a community, I refer this as to not participating, how we can negotiate meanings with people, artifacts, symbols, social norms, and etc in the community and probably, there's no social practice we can thus experience. No engagement, no meaning. Under this circumstance, a company cannot speak to its market and thus there is no market. It's applicable to the educational setting. If there is no community or we pre set up a classroom culture, students probably cannot participate and thus negotiate meanings to themselves.
As stated in the introduction to the 95 theses, "learning to speak in a human voice is not some trick, nor will corporations convince us they are human with lip service about "listening to customers." They will only sound human when they empower real human beings to speak on their behalf. While many such people already work for companies today, most companies ignore their ability to deliver genuine knowledge, opting instead to crank out sterile happytalk that insults the intelligence of markets literally too smart to buy it."
- Command-and-control management styles both derive from and reinforce bureaucracy, power tripping and an overall culture of paranoia.
- Paranoia kills conversation. That's its point. But lack of open conversation kills companies.
These two are interesting to think about in that social networking and Web 2.0 have made these points even more evident. The flattening of organizations, and inter-connectedness of employees (whether facilitated by the organization, or due to employees' personal social networks external to the organization) means that people will interact and converse with each other. And if they are not provided information, and do not feel as though the company is conversing openly, it's human nature to use what's available to them to explain things. So, if a company doesn't provide information, they effectively tell employees and customers that there's something that the company is hiding... something that the company is not willing to discuss with "outsiders". This not only creates an "in" group and an "outsider" group, but it also leaves the "outsider" group with no other option than to invent their own information and explanations based on what is available. Lack of conversation breeds distrust, and people don't want to work for or do business with an entity that they don't trust.
It seems that the same thing could be said for a classroom. While the age of students in some cases requires command and authority, the teacher is also responsible for communicating genuinely with the learners. Students who feel that the teacher is hiding something or is telling them to do something based purely on power or authority will not trust the teacher, and by extension, will be uncomfortable in the learning environment.
In terms of "open conversation", participation is necessary to be included if a conversation is open. If access to participation is limited, it is hard to have negotiated meaning. As a teacher, I explained to my students about assignments and sometimes they came to me and asking why this is a "good" assignments. Of course, I explained my rationals and concerns. Convinced or not, I cared more on why they came to me to ask about the meaning of doing such assignments. What's lack of? I expected that after completing several lessons, they could see the meaning of doing those assignments. Apparently, it did not happen all the time. The idea of new conversation made me think about conversations between teachers and students. Can we have open conversations? In what ways?
* Theses 57-62
- Smart companies will get out of the way and help the inevitable to happen sooner.
- If willingness to get out of the way is taken as a measure of IQ, then very few companies have yet wised up.
- However subliminally at the moment, millions of people now online perceive companies as little more than quaint legal fictions that are actively preventing these conversations from intersecting.
- This is suicidal. Markets want to talk to companies.
- Sadly, the part of the company a networked market wants to talk to is usually hidden behind a smokescreen of hucksterism, of language that rings false--and often is.
- Markets do not want to talk to flacks and hucksters. They want to participate in the conversations going on behind the corporate firewall.
In these points, the company can be seen as the educational institution and the market as students collectively. The smokescreen is the ineffective instructional methods that many instructors implement, perhaps through lack of understanding of a better approach, or perhaps through anxiety about allowing their students to take the drivers seat in the classroom. Instructors want their students to learn, and students want to engage, but there's a wall that separates those to desires and prevents them from coming to fruition. Instructors need to "wise up" and re-situate themselves as classroom facilitators, and get away from the "sage on the stage" or dominant authority figure in the classroom. To tie this back to Wenger, meaningful experience in the classroom must come from a negotiation between the instructor and the student to establish a place where participation results in learning, and where learning is reified through instructional practice and the outcomes of student participation.
- Your product broke. Why? We'd like to ask the
guy who made it. Your corporate strategy makes no sense. We'd like to have a
chat with your CEO. What do you mean she's not in?
- Your product broke. Why? We'd like to ask the guy who made it. Your corporate strategy makes no sense. We'd like to have a chat with your CEO. What do you mean she's not in?
- We want you to take 50 million of us as seriously as you take one reporter from The Wall Street Journal.
These two echoes several other theses and some sentences in the Forward, speaking in a human voice and the metaphor of tearing down the Berlin Wall. Being a customer, we all hope to talk to "real people" instead of polite but distant statements. If companies continue to lock themselves behind corporation walls, we'll never have new conversation, a conversation with human voice. This fits to any communities that if we want to negotiate meanings we may have to hear human voice from each other.
This week's readings lead us to shape our discussion about the relationship between building communities and the role of conversations. The introduction to Cluetrain Manifesto (CM) provided a strong outlook as to how natural human conversations are shaping the markets (instead of the other way around) and shifting in business trends as consumers, employees and people are breaking down the "power structures and senseless bureaucracies". When companies open themselves to these conversations and look at these new marketplaces, they will start to look at problem solving differently. "The World Wide Web reinforces freedom. The Internet routes around obstacles". Yet, many companies "fear these changes, seeing in them only a devastating loss of control". The CM provides forewarning to corporations to shift and pay heed to how they can benefit from these conversations to better serve the new markets. We look forward to further readings from the manifesto as we look at community building and the relationship to social, economic and education concerns.
Wenger's article on communities of practices is relevant to the discussion of human interactions and world change. As people continually relate together in a shared practice, they form a community of practice. These practices include but are not limited to common language, tools, rules, implicit relations, perceptions, and world views. One purpose or result of a community of practice is to create/discover meaning. Meaning is derived from both historical roots (what a thing has traditionally meant) and new, living, in-the-moment roots (what it means right now). Wenger uses the phrase "negotiation of meaning" to connote the idea of human participation in finding meaning as well as the idea of deliberate effort and readjustment. But it is not only the human agent who contributes to creating/finding meaning. The object or situation itself contributes meaning, too.
This is why Wenger develops two sides of the meaning coin: participation and reification. Participation is what people mutually bring to a situation to ascribe it meaning. It involves all sorts of relations, bad and good. Participation transforms individual contributors, but it also transforms the community as a whole. Reification, on the other hand, is the meaning given to our situations and experiences through the formation of a single representation. Reification can simplify activities, but it can also be taken too literally. Both reification and participation exist in any situation in which communities of practice try to discover meaning, and they compensate for each others' weaknesses.
This week, in order to enhance the conversation of our team's postings we have included three videos that touch upon the social media revolution of the web and the impact on community building. The content of these videos also touch upon identity and language which have been relevant in shaping our discussions for the past few weeks.
Social Media Revolution
Did you know 2.0
Communities of Practice
This was Team 3's Synthesis Presentation for Block 1.
We have all been working together to understand disruptive technology, and how it relates to community, identity, and design. The video represents the diversity of ideas and questions generated by the class, and demonstrates visually the diversity of individual identities ("I am...") of contributors to this blog while synthesizing them together into a harmonious (or sometimes discordant) whole.
The word tree as generated using a web service called Many Eyes. Feel free to interact with word tree.
Some ideas explored in class:
- Does the design of disruptive technologies carry intelligence related to identity and community?
- What intelligence was transmitted via the design of the blog/word tree combination? How does experiencing the text in the tree format differ from experiencing it in blog form?
- The business of education is change. Teachers want to make a change in their students to varying levels. Teachers also need to prepare their students to continue to change, as the world will continue to change. As such, Teachers themselves need to be able to change as well.
Team Synthesis Presentations
In your teams you'll go over your synthesis for the first block of the class. We're looking forward to hearing from you and seeing how each of your teams tackled this task.
If things are getting bad, we can split after the Synthesis Presentations.
Conversations Related to (Incidental) Openness
Let's take a little time to discuss some of the notions of open education and what it might mean to us. We'll also share a few stories of incidental openness from around Penn State and talk a bit about how it may or may not constitute open education.
Readings and Activities
- Let's continue reading Wenger, this time starting on page 45 and ending on page 72.
- We'd like you to also read a few pieces from the Cluetrain manifesto. We'd like you to read the Forward, the 95 Theses, Elevator Rap, and the Introduction. The entire Cluetrain is available online for free, so have at it ... you are welcome to read more.
- Complete your team writing with an emphasis on Community. We'd like you to also consider the 95 Theses as part of your reflection, citing which of the 95 that resonated the most with your team as it relates to the conversations we've been having in class.
Classroom and Politics Scenarios:
World of Warcraft Scenario:
- How do the design elements of the World of Warcraft environment effect how users form communities and express their identities in these communities?
- In what ways could the affordances of this environment be leveraged to enhance learning and student community/team building? How might they diminish students ability to engage?
- What design elements contributed to the differences in these scenarios?
- How do cultural characteristics of a community shape behaviors? Do those behaviors shape identity?
- What features of each of these environments impacted how each conversation played out, and how? How do you think that the community impacted her identity?
- Was the main character (the one in all 3 scenarios) being dishonest to any of the people she was talking to?
- What parallels exist between what happened in these 3 scenarios and how students communicate and interact in online communities vs. at school?
I've been sitting here reading all of the definitions and reflections on the notion of open education and have been waiting for someone to take on the issues related to the openness of our class. I'm of the mind that any one of the posts that are made here is an open educational resource (OER) that can be taken, re-mixed, reused, and generally consumed by anyone to gain a better insight into a topic. Looking at the last three weeks of analytics indicates that people from the outside are showing up ... some are even leaving comments.
The thing that is striking to me is that much of what we consider open courseware consists of top-down, University mandates -- look at MIT's Open Courseware Initiative or Yale's Open Courses as two examples of top down approaches. These are costly, albeit impactful, examples that may or may not have long-term sustainability issues. My interest lies in the notions of what I'll call Incidental Openness ... when faculty and students don't need a mandate to open things up. I find the most interesting things happen when we just openly invite people because we feel it enriches the experience.
It leads me to ask what does a course like this mean in the open? Do our collective posts and comments add up to something of value to those on the Internet? I know we get access to classroom discussions and ultimately a grade, but what do the people out there get from this?
Given the video above, perhaps the more interesting question for us comes when we simply ignore the, "what does this course add up to for someone" questions I have read so much here?
I think Open Education is a great concept, especially when the information is coming from an educational institution such a Penn State. The Internet is vast and the quantity of information that can be found is even greater. But one concern I have is the reliability and accuracy of the information presented there. Different people always have different viewpoints, so if all informational sources are labeled as open educational resources, how can we weed out the information that isn't reliable?
For example, several years ago I was working on an online course in which the instructor had students linking out to other websites for the course content. When asked about the accuracy of those websites, they replied, "well students just sort of have to sift through the content and find what's accurate and disregard what's not." However, since the instructor was directing students to those sites, they believed that everything on there was accurate. For me, this reinforces the fact that educational institutions should be making more of their information open and available to the public. Its one thing for a student to do a Google search and stumble across a random website with some information on it. But it is quite another to go to a university created site and access information that is accurate and has been provided by a credible source.
I find myself asking many questions about open education that I'm not sure there are answers to. Does an open education result in something that can be used to access the job market? Such as a high school diploma or college degree. Is there anyway to be sure of the quality of the instruction being offered over the internet? I also think about my experiences with education over the internet. I have taken two courses through the World Campus at Penn State and do not believe it was of the same quality of face to face, in person instruction. It was focused on deadlines and completing assignments one by one with no chance at adjusting the syllabus. I am curious to see where open education will go in the future.
"If universities start to offer course materials and educational resources free of charge, what is the motivation for individuals to register as students? How do we differentiate between individuals who have completed the course "officially" and those who have studied the open content? "
Below is a video of a presentation from Dr. Christopher Long, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies in the College of the Liberal Arts At Penn State (and contributor to this blog). Dr. Long has used blogs in his teaching of philosophy for several years. The presentation relates to the topics we have been discussing in class: community and identity, social disruption, blurring of boundaries between teacher and learner, and open education, just to start the list. You can also say that the same pedagogical model is being used in this class.
While watching this video, I was struck with how the notion of open educational resource is not confined to the idea of free textbooks or recordings of lectures. Open education can be a living, breathing ongoing educational collaboration open to the world. For example, anyone in can participate to some degree in this class just by reading and engaging in the open discussion on this blog, taking part in shaping the educational experience.
Here's the video:
- Use a tag ci597
- Repository (unlike Twitter, which is ephemeral)
- Synthesis Presentations
- Blog Post/Comment on Open education and its implications
- Readings: Wenger and boyd