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29 October 2008

Social Implications of Social Computing #5

Because the way we use social computing is changing the means, times and places by which we interact with other people this gives rise to issues around boundaries. 


It also means that we are dealing with a radically different set of expectations – from our learners on the one hand and from their parents on the other hand.  Most of the parents were socialised in the old non-digital world; while our learners are the digital natives.  It’s going to be an interesting balancing act between those different sets of expectations.  

And in dealing with issues about boundaries (and different perspectives on what the boundaries are) we can expect discussions about: 
  • the times and places of learning;  
  • the nature of educational content;  
  • and the authority to decide all of this.  

And the interesting thing is, that what we think is becoming increasingly irrelevant.  Just try to get a 15 year old to do something they don’t value or feel like doing.  

This notion of boundaries in a hyperconnected world is another challenging concept. But it is worth remembering that many of our most interesting discoveries are made at the boundaries of the currently known world.  

But some of the questions that arise are:
  • Why does school have to be at whatever the set time has been for generations?
  • Why does school have to be in the one place all the time?
  • What is legitimate content of learning? And how can we effectively assess it?
  • What about the role of authority? Who has it & why? How do we feel about that?  Is it generational?
A lot of what we seek to achieve in education comes down to sensemaking.  Dan Russell provides a nice definition of sensemaking: “Sensemaking is in many ways a search for the right organization or the right way to represent what you know about a topic. It’s data collection, analysis, organization and performing the task.” 

To a certain extent these changes mean that we need to become co-participants in the learning experience.  Become facilitators of the process rather than the experts.  This does not mean that our experience and empirical knowledge is not valuable.  But in the world we face we need to get learning back to our ancient tribal roots where a teacher was linked with the learner as part of a community or village.  We need to establish mutual respect and open dialogue. And luckily now we have the technological tools to facilitate that dialogue.  

By Carruthers via Aide-mémoire

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