Wednesday, October 31, 2007

how (not) to get funding

I didn't get to make a difference, the funding application fell over.
Things I learned:
1. It does help to make the application stand out, TXT gained attention
2. Saying you would do it with or without funding doesn't work.
3. Size matters, Starlings law: the bigger it gets the harder it is to squeeze.
Should have known this; its easier to love puppies, kittens, babies...pheromone quotients are high for fledglings.
3. Philanthropy likes desperation.
4. Decisions on funding endeavours for youth should be made by youth.

Moving on:

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Research possibilities in social networked spaces

Research possibilities in social networked spaces is an area i have been thinking about with regard to my own study on texting, internet message board postings and email counselling. In gaining ethical approval and in not wanting to damage an online community in any way, i am looking at self reported experiences rather than actual client experiences. I was beginning to get quite despondent about the research validity and reliability. When research occurs how do we know that everything involved is not contrived, if I want to study handwashing then self reporting is obviously going to give a different measure than observations. The presence or absence of reality was getting torturous. Sherry Turkle and Donna Harraway have convinced me that the borders of reality/unreality are blurred. I began to consider that all research is contrived to some extent, it all leaves a footprint, alters the events.... and then i began to think so the best i can do is virtual research in a virtual world. If i were an ethnographer in 2nd life then i might have observations, but again is it of any value, can it be useful for others in a terrestrial life... Fortunately some reading got me out of this funk. Bruce Mason's article Issues in virtual ethnography reminded me of actor network theory (as if i could forget....but had!) Latour says: follow the actors. So whether they are in this reality or a virtual one doesn't matter ....trace the connecting. Its of no real issue inside of ANT as to whether its a real person- its an actor, just stay with the actor in or out of whats called reality, trace the connecting through cyberspaces.
ANT is described in similar terms to a CSI programme, trace connections, let the evidence speak, doesnt need to be human (or a live human...) to be given voice. So I thought i would check out the soon to be released CSI that traverses 2ndlife:

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

In my second life

Phoebe, despite feeling chronologically aged in this environment, can now manage to make and stack bricks like a toddler. I dont know if anyone has studied growth and development in secondlife, but i seem to be going through phases i last went through decades ago, learning gross motor movement before fine motor movement... I think I'm now in a stage best described as 'parallel play'. I can even dress myself!
In an extreme makeover Phoebe got the harjuku look she had been dying for:

Saturday, October 06, 2007

new media, new literacies, new teaching and learning

More on holding on and letting go.
There are so many questions raised in using social software in education; its huge, grows and evolves daily... so even getting a handle on what it is, poses difficulties.
Sheldon Kopp suggests, even a stone can be a teacher.
And just as surely social software can too.
But its about how and about the purposes and about having a match between the means as well as the ends in education.

In the brilliant discussion that I could only access because of socialsoftware, Sandy McAuley on the edtechtalk new literacies media panel at UPEI Sept 29 suggests any integration of new technologies should consider:
1. What problem is it trying to solve?
2. Whose problem is it?
3. What new problems are going to be created with the solution proposed?

I like the thoughtfulness here, there are no solutions or evangelizing of rightness or wrongness in the use of social software or of Web2.0 in teaching, just a thoughtful regard for whats involved.

In applying this to my research, the integration of txt for mediating counselling, this suggests looking at who wants it and for whom does this generate a problem.
Young people seem to be wanting it, txt seems a preferred means of communicating for this group. This might be cost driven, might be ego protecting, might be something else, but seems young people esp expect to be able to engage in this way and as a first choice.
Whose problem is it? Organisations that work with young people and especially organisations whose service is primarily communicating with young people, youth counseling by a telephone agency is obvious but also teaching and learning places ... Universities who want to notify students might consider greater use of this medium. For example, student support 1st year experience team contact students who haven't met assessment deadlines. (A new funding model with an emphasis on student success makes us more attentive to students not achieving). When its done by mail this tended to add a week to the drawn out process of not having got work in on time and didnt always get to the person anyway. Then it got a bit faster using email; but there seemed an increased likelihood that those most needing of the message were also most likely too be transient and least likely to have fixed abodes or Internet access. T'da the cellphone, these ubiquitous devices are everywhere. Seems every student has (at least) one (need to do a quick survey at my next class).
The problem involves evolving the services. Sometimes this is easy as with the example here, sometimes its about getting others (particularly the 'grown ups' to think txt friendly).

This leads to the next question, what new problems? This area is the unknown, some things we anticipate, some things we don't, and how do we alter as what we are altering alters us... This is the main area of my study. It (IT) alters counselling, can it still be counselling when its the 160 characters or less fitting the face of a cellphone?... Does it alter the people involved, does it assist those already socially avoidant to remain socially avoidant? .... Might it increase the likelihood of prank "ph calls' when the 'caller' is not seen or heard....But it may also decrease these as the traceability is more overt with numbers visible...
Bottomline, is it seen as useful by the target group- whats there experience, their hopes, does their use increase, decrease....Does it assist in making connections with a group who might not otherwise...

Dave Cormier suggests the social software opportunities create alterations in scale. He describes teaching in a room of 20 vs teaching when there is potential to connect with the world; a class with access is different. The boundaries have gone, its no longer me and the students, its the world. He takes this a step further suggesting the production of what is knowledge similarly alters. And that the transparency of learning also increases.
AND So does the transparency in teaching. On blackboard or whatever, what i do becomes highly visible. I'm feeling a Foucaudian panacopia coming on so it must be time to let go ...
Will Richardson idenitifies that maybe schools & learning institutions can't manage this. It is too much the square peg in the round hole... that schools cant change this much, letting go of the control of learning being be too much ...

So back to Leunig,
holding it gently ...
knowing that letting go will be just as important.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

holding on and letting go

Do an internet search for Leunigs holding on and letting go cartoon, its a special piece advising one to hold on as one might a day old chicken, or a live fish, or the queens handbag....and that letting go is a whole new area to be managed in another cartoon, another day.
In making change happen, the hype isnt enough.
No matter how evangelical the early adopters might be, this isnt enough.
No matter how sparkly the innovation, the sparkle does not create its own S shaped curved trajectory.
To make change happen in Health promotion there is a mantra about making the healthy choice, the easy choice.
Sometimes this is about letting go- recognising habits, letting go of whats comfortable, identifying goals, creating opportunities for doing things differently ...
Leunig's cartoon wisdom on how to hold on points to this.
Latour, Callon, Law all point to this. Actor network theory identifies the 'work' involved but it still seems that the letting go is often bypassed when talking about change. I have just been reading futurelab 2006 on social software and learning networks. Little regard was given to what would have to be unmade, unattached.
Looking at what maintains the status quo is as important as strategizing implementation.