To share or not to share?

Introduction

Here’s another little blog post inspired by “The Digital Scholar’ by Martin Weller.

Just in case your wondering, I’m writing this blog to help me with my studies for the MA in Digital Technologies for Language Teaching at the University of Nottingham. It’s got absolutely nothing to do with pizza.

I’ve already written a couple of posts on this book; blogging and do we need uni…. So you might want to check these out too.

Dystopia

I’ve just finished reading another book called ‘Blind Faith‘ by Ben Elton which kind of links to some of the ideas in this book. It’s set in a dystopian future where openness is an obligation and a form of worship to God. The logic goes thus; everything was created by God so you shouldn’t be ashamed of anything. In fact, if you don’t share, society thinks you’ve got something to hide!

Another great example of dystopian fiction related to openness is from the Black Mirror series, series one episode three. Some of my students stopped using Facebook after seeing this, for a while at least.

Network weather

Coming from the pre-Facebook era I still find it difficult to understand why people feel the need to share every little detail about their lives. At the same time, It’s also true that non Facebook/WhatsApp users seem to be somewhat excluded from social gatherings and current affairs. Weller refers to this phenomenom as ‘network weather’ and uses the modern day conference with remote participation and back channelling to illustrate his point. Basically, even if you don’t use social networks, you are still affected by them in some way.

Remember to forget

Another issue that I found interesting in the digital scholar was the link between memory and identity. However, I’d like to read ‘Delete’ by Viktor Mayer-Schonberger before discussing this in detail. Here’s an article by Viktor from the Guardian to whet your appitite.

Me and Facebook

My current Facebook page is my third attempt at being more open. My first had a profile picture of a boat, a pseudonym and just in case that wasn’t safe enough, nobody could find me either. I just used it as a place to store photos but as you can probably guess, it wasn’t very social. The second had a giraffe for a profile picture and was slightly more open, I even allowed people to send me friend requests. However, apart from the fact that it eventually got hijacked by my girlfriend, I actually realised that I didn’t know half the people on it. Now I have finally set up a more ‘conventional’ Facebook page with my actual face on it and it is completely open…ish.

Open scholar

Anyway, on the theme of openness, I’d like to present the list of characteristics for open scholars suggested by Weller.

They are:

  1. Have a distributed online identity.
  2. Have a central hub for your identity.
  3. Develop an online network of peers.
  4. Find a range of tools to create your own PLE.
  5. Engage in open publishing.
  6. Use a range of informal outputs. for example, video, podcast, slidecast…
  7. Experiment with emerging technologies.
  8. Combine personal and professional outputs.
  9. Use technology to enhance/support professional practice.

‘The Digital Scholar’ (Weller, M. Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2011)

How open are you?

So using the criteria above: How open am I?

  1. I now use Facebook, Twitter, WordPress and YouTube to distribute my online identity or identities. i.e. teacher, musician and general human being.
  2. I’m not quite sure which of these is my central hub though.
  3. As for a network of peers, I have my colleagues on Facebook, but it doesn’t seem like the right place to bring up discussions on language teaching.
  4. The course hasn’t started yet but we have started using Edmodo as a PLE which seems quite easy to get into. I can already see a lot of potential for PLEs like Edmodo to enhance language learning. Just the fact that you can leave links to other content is great, it could easily become a central hub for special interest groups.
  5. I’ve been publishing music videos on YouTube for a while but this blog is my first education related open publishing endeavour, I haven’t shared it with many people yet though.
  6.  I would definitely like to start experimenting with podcasts, slideshow, videos and other things I haven’t thought of.
  7. I can’t wait to experiment with emerging technologies, both software and hardware. some areas of particular interest to me are, augmented reality combined with mobile technology and virtual reality.
  8. As I mentioned above I don’t really feel comfortable combing personal and professional outputs but I can see how it can encourage cross-pollination of ideas from different fields and lead to new insights.
  9. Digital technologies are just tools not a pedagogy in themselves. Any use of technology needs to be grounded in sound pedagogical theory to be effective.

References

“The Digital Scholar’ by Martin Weller (Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2011)

‘Blind Faith’ by Ben Elton (Bantam Press, 2007)

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