From Code to Craft – Open, appropriate, technology and the design of a new world – part 3

10900111_343478819172598_193884582881854888_oInformation and communications technologies (ICT’s) continue to change and develop at a rapid pace. Increasingly pervasive and networked (both socially and ‘physically’) ICT’s are largely black boxes. While there are indications of movements and trends that attempt to plumb the depths of these black boxes, by and large, most people remain unaware of the ‘mystery in the box’. Digital literacies, hard and soft, offer a way into understanding ICT’s.

The development of a robust understanding of ICT’s leads to an ability to deconstruct, reimagine, and innovate beyond the original boundaries of any given tool or technology. It is possible to see this process at work in communities surrounding the sandbox game, Minecraft. There are ways of seeing the world building, mod creating, and sharing within the Minecraft community as analogs for other processes that can/could have tangible real world impacts. The challenge is in moving from code to craft.

While there is value in knowing how to use software to build vivid and impactful worlds online, the end goal should be to teach literacies that help learners emerge into the world and enact change there. Building the world we want is an exercise in shaping tangible realities. Crafting a more just and equitable world may seem outside the direct goals of any digital literacy learning, but all learning should orient itself towards that goal. The tools and technologies of ICT can be powerful agents acting towards sustainability, creativity, free expression and on and on.

This movement from understanding to intervention informs the Maker and DIY movements, to a degree. But it is time to think about harnessing the energy of such movements towards concrete and meaningful impacts in the world. This is not to say that all activities must be socially useful, just that an articulated goal should include utility towards a more just and equitable world.

Evolving Web-based Online Courses

An Evolving Web-based Online Course (EWOC) represents a method for the use of online technologies to create interactive, engaged, and engaging, learning opportunities. An EWOC is meant to be responsive to the needs of participants, with course topics being fluid, open to amendment and able to reflect the interests and learning requirements of participants. EWOC’s rely heavily on social interaction, peer learning, and reflective assessment as techniques for creating meaningful learning experiences for participants.

Common technologies used for the creation of an EWOC include:

  • Webinars
  • LCMS’s
  • Twitter
  • Etc…

woven together to create a dialogic learning space online.

In many ways an EWOC is a counter-MOOC. The role of course facilitator is in-depth and essential in fostering a dialogic learning space that can evoke new knowledge while encouraging equitable, and sustained, participation over the duration of a course. An EWOC is solidly grounded in the Freirean sentiment that “there are neither utter ignoramuses nor perfect sages; there are only people who are attempting, together, to learn more than they now know.”

Books that have shaped my perspective of online learning.

I’m cleaning up an online course and wanted to preserve this list, while removing it from the course. And since I’m here I might as well update it a bit.

Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Paulo Freire – back on the top of my list again.

On Teaching and Learning: Putting the Principles and Practices of Dialogue Education into Action. Jane Vella

e-Learning by Design. William Horton

Learning Theory and Online Technology. Linda Harasim

All links lead to Amazon.

2010 List

Creating Significant Learning Experiences L. Dee Fink – New to my booklist. Highly recommended by Marcia Eames Sheavley.

Discussion-Based Online Teaching to Enhance Student Learning: Theory, Practice and Assessment Tisha Bender

Building Online Learning Communities: Effective Strategies for the Virtual Classroom Pallof and Pratt

Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity Etienne Wenger. A classic? I think so- helped form some of my thinking on boundaries, tangibility and so on.

Online Communities: Designing Usability and Supporting Sociability Jenny Preece – Published in 2000 but one of the more influential books I read back then. 10 years is antiquity online, it seems like, but this was an important read for me, and still relevant.

Planning Programs for Adult Learners: A Practical Guide for Educators, Trainers, and Staff Developers Rosemary Caffarella

Education for Critical Consciousness Paolo Freire – Less well known than Pedagogy of the Oppressed but equally important, in my opinion. Includes “Extension or Communication”.

Science Education from People for People: Taking a Stand(point) Wollf-Michael Roth especially, in our context, chapter 3 – Faith in a Seed and chapter 6 Sister City,Sister Science.

There are more but that’s probably more than enough, for now. One note on prices- should you decide that any of these are invaluable and necessary but costly and prohibitive – be sure to check the used listings at Amazon. Many items are available used and fairly inexpensive.

Presentation proposal – “Re-presenting” the world through technology. Digital literacy practices in cross-cultural contexts

Drawn from projects involving youth working in the United States and Latin America, three case studies will focus on technology as mediator for the “re-presentation” of the world by learner-teachers, and the facilitation of that process by the teacher-learner. Project work with digital photography and video as tools for digital literacy development will be highlighted.

Using a method of digital literacy development that is grounded in the lived situation of the learners shifts the focus from technology as subject to that of technology as a means of expression and communication. Embedding technical learning in a larger social context provides an approach to digital literacy learning that places the instructor in a position of peer – with each participant engaging in teaching and learning. The instructor holds the concrete practices that will enable learners to fully utilize technology for dialog and creation. The learners hold the as yet articulated “re-presentation” of subject that will flow through the tools.  In this way the disequilibrium present in traditional teacher learner relationships can be unseated and new ways of working and learning become possible.

Each of the three presented case studies will expand on this vision and illustrate effective practices for approaching digital literacy training in this way. By exploring a variety of learning contexts and a diversity of participants the underlying principles will be illustrated.  The range of technologies employed as tools for the organized, systematized and developed “re-presentation” of topics and materials rising from the learners will be discussed.