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.


  1. Anonymous5:08 PM

    I think that Marshall McLuhan's 4 Laws of Media might also help here ...

    The 4 Laws of Media

    1. What human trait or experience does the new medium ENHANCE?
    What is the intended function of the new medium or technology?
    What does it improve or make more efficient?
    Does it extend part of the human body, or one or more of the senses?
    Does it extend some aspect of the human mind (such as memory)?
    Does it amplify some human capability or augment some form of human action?
    Does it extend the individual, the group, or society?

    2. What pre-existing technology, method, system, or medium does the new medium OBSOLESCE?
    What older technology does the new medium replace?
    What does it render unnecessary?
    What procedures does it “short-circuit” or by-pass?
    What happens to the old medium that is rendered “obsolescent”: does it disappear entirely, become an art object, or find a new niche?

    3. What technology, method, system, or medium that was previously obsolesced or abandoned does the new medium RETRIEVE?
    What archaic elements are made relevant again?
    What previously marginalized or repressed ideas, practices, artifacts, or cultural aspects are brought forth and revived?

    4. When fully utilized or pushed to its extreme, what will the new media or technology REVERSE into?
    What effects will the new medium create that are OPPOSITE to what was originally intended?
    What are the contradictions inherent in the new technology? What is the ecological”/”environmental” impact of the medium on its contemporary media environment?

  2. Thanks Arti for pushing me further into reading what i had only skimmed before. I need to read more, glad i have a lifetime to do it in :)

  3. I still figure the "integration" term says much. No other social institution talks like this any more. Do banks obsess about integrating these things.... nope... just concerned with core business. I think the problem schools actually have is that they don't have a good sense of core business. Lots of rituals and habits about it from the past but right now a pretty tricky space to navigate.

  4. thanks cj for the reminder. I am old enough to remember being taught how to use a fountain pen and having ballpoint pens banned for fear they would ruin handwriting! How quaint. Back to core business: where its working, work with it.