fredag 14 oktober 2016

Topic 1. The reflective blog post

Tools and conventions

We do not go online anymore, we do not surf the internet anymore, and I'm sorry but we never did surf any wave online! We were just communicating. Either we were communicating by producing information, or we consumed information someone produced for us.

Communication is hard, even when we are close to another. A huge part of our brain is dedicated to interpreting facial expressions and body language. All that brain matter is there for a reason, it helps us to communicate with other people. We get a broader set of impressions, more bandwidth and more data to interpret. We use this data to interpret responses to our communication. This helps us survive.

The topic for this week is Digital Literacy and I think that is all about communication.

The impression I got from first weeks of the ONL162 course was that it felt a bit chaotic. I believe this has to do with how the course introduces new tools without any instructions on how to use them. I like the idea, it's problem-based and problems will arrive. People will miss meetings, fail to receive emails, struggle with their interfaces, and they will eventually learn to both use the tools and to communicate successfully through the tools. Please note the two different skills! It is a separate skill to use a tool than to use it together with others. I had used the tools before, written blogs, posted on google+, participated in webinars, etc. I could find my way around the keys and buttons of each tool. But since I communicate with new people and in a new problem context. I cannot be successful in the communication until all parties have achieved a common ground, the common conventions, and also  all must have some tool knowledge.
To successfully reach goals; we need not only tool knowledge but conventions

Example. We need to organise meetings and make sure everyone has a fair chance of attending.

In order to get people together in a synchronous meeting when we are in different time zones and when each of the group members has their own schedules, we must first have a means of communication.

Our first meeting was announced through Google+. I have used google plus for a long time, but I have not used google plus for planning meetings before, and I did consider it a platform that should or could be used for planning meetings, compared to doodle, calendar and email that I frequently use to plan and receive plans for meetings in.

Google Plus is "flow based" and older items drop to the bottom unless they are stuck. As such the user must browse all items to find the one with the invitation. Messages need to be expanded to be read. When browsing the flow you should not need to read everything. If the start of the message does not state that a meeting is going to occur.

Since its hard to magically know the schedule of the entire group, meetings must be planned. Planning them in a noisy video conference is not a good idea. We tried it, but I had some communication issues during that call and heard just a little. Planning meetings without everyone attending could result in the same people getting excluded in more meetings. I think it is thus better to do this asynchronously with help of an app such as doodle.

Since the schedule of everyone is not known when scheduling, the doodle should include many days, and many sessions every day to allow each and every member to find their free spots. When everyone has filled in the doodle the new meeting can be announced. But this requires some common conventions. The doodle needs a short deadline so that people get their timeslots back and can plan other things. The second convention or "ground rule" is how to select the time-slot? Doodle suggests time-slots with many participants but if everyone is not available, how to select which get to attend the meeting? This is a typical thing that needs to be solved within the group. We decided to make sure that people that miss out should be included in the next meeting if possible, in a flat organisation that works, but when people have roles and responsibilities those might rule the prioritisation process.

When a time-slot is selected, perhaps the one with the most attending members. The left out members may either reschedule conflicting activities or do work asynchronously, but at least they have gotten the chance to say which dates they could have participated!

On the visitors and residents

I watched Dave White's videos on visitors and residents. Dave tries to replace Marc Prensky's model of Digital natives and immigrants[1]. Prensky's model is based on the observation that some, the digital natives has much higher proficiency in being effective in digital communication than others, the digital Immigrants and Prensky tries to explain that students have grown up with the technology and thus are digital natives. The critique of such an idea is obvious, even if today's students have grown up with the technologies they still lack the skills to use them in new contexts, for example, the academic. Even if they can search for information, they might not have the skills areto sort out peer reviewed articles?
Dave continues by presenting his own model of a spectrum from visitors to residents[2]. A visitor is someone who is only using an application like a tool that can be put back in the toolbox after usage. While a digital resident communicates through an application in a way that leaves social imprints. For example, if I use Youtube to watch videos only I'm not contributing to the discussions there, but if I post comments or produce video's I'm a digital resident. To be honest, I thought the predictive or explanatory value of Dave's model to be very low until I watched another of his videos where he mapped his usage of digital applications into his model.

Here he adds another dimension of Private and Institutional to the model and suddenly I could relate to its importance. At least when I mapped myself...

My own mapping.

Since I have taught online for so many years, I have experienced at least some of the issues related to trying to separate the personal communication from the institutional communication.

Here are some of the applications I use that I have user accounts that I use both for private and institutional work, mixed accounts.

  • Skype: soo many students in my contact list, but also relatives and friends
  • YouTube: many lectures on my private account, but also private stuff
  • Drive: sharing documents and folders with students but also with family
  • GitHub: sharing code with students and the world
  • Linkedin: many contacts but also friends and family

Here are some applications I have purely institutional communication through,
  • YouTube: I have another account, that most of my lectures are released on this year
  • Slack: only for communication with students
  • work email: I never send any private emails and very rarely receive.

Here are some applications I intended to keep private but in some way got infected by my institutional work anyway.
  • Facebook: I get friend requests from old students, some are friends now.
  • Gmail: In this course, and other collaborations with researchers I use it.
  • cell phone: used by closer colleagues in work errands.
So from that aspect, the model can be used to explain the continuum and that how we use applications change over time. But White goes one step further and says that in order to be successful, the strategies and practices used in the private sphere do not directly translate into the institutional sphere and the opposite but at least I have learned that what is private and what is institutional will meet. 

Sometimes I meet students on the street or in the grocery store. I say hello, I'm polite and if they are old students I sometimes ask them if they felt they have use for what we learned, sometimes we become friends sometimes not, it's just communication! The digital world is actually the same as the real world... just not so many waves to surf... (anymore)


[1] Prensky, Marc, 2001, Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, Online Available:,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

[2] White, David, 2011, Visitors and residents: A new typology for online engagement. Online Available:

1 kommentar:

  1. Such an interesting and detailed reflection :). I agree that the model is more understandable when the layer of private and institutional is added; it is true that we adopt different strategies when operating from these different perspectives, however I do believe that competencies developed in one carry over to the other. Thanks for sharing a great read!