Monday, September 8, 2008

Starting out

So far, I have managed to access course material via the course wiki, sign up on the Moodle site, introduce myself, add myself to the Google map, check out the course pageflakes site & do some reading.

Stephen Downs is emailing out a daily email & so far, this has been reassuring as he has reiterated that everyone will approach the course differently & that there is no need to read EVERYTHING (of which there is rather a lot of!).

So here is a start to this week’s efforts.

Introduction to web 2.0 provides a good overall port of call for anyone who is not familiar with Web 2.0 and the uses of web 2.0 social networking type tools in education. A wiki covers more material but is still in the process of being built.

Three papers on digital learners, teens & social media & how young people continually multitask was next on the list. Much of this is of relevance to westernised, usually advantaged youth. My experience with disenfranchised and disengaged learners is that the patterns reported in these three reports, do not necessarily encompass the cultural, geographical, race & class distribution of all youth. For instance, many young people who do not move into tertiary education in NZ have limited access to digital technology. Many have ICT skills that are not desktop PC based but are founded on their reliance on mobile phones. Due to their social circumstances, youth in this category are not willing to use mobile phones to ‘surf the web’ as it is a costly exercise. Therefore, the digital divide plays a role in how young people engage with social networking via the web.

The next set of reading looks at changes in how we view communities. ‘Communities have changed from densely-knit “little boxes”(densely-knit, linking people door-to-door) to “globalized” networks (sparsely knit but with clusters, linking households both locally and globally) to“networked individualism”.’

The readings for week one close with the origins of connectivism, a definition of connectivism and a critique on connectivism. All good background information to move forward with the course. In particular, these three readings provide food for thought about whether social networks contribute to individual learning. Is there then a ripple down effect from people who are part of distributed networks into their ‘little boxes’ ie the people they work with, the institution they might teach in, the prevailing policies of the government of the country they live in?

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