Saturday, 9 May 2009

Suddenly it seems like information I didn’t actively search starts coming just to confirm what’s been on my mind. I found in Virtual Canuck, a comment and a link to an article about a new framework of implementation of blogs in formal education: An empirically grounded framework to guide blogging in higher education.

The study by Kerawalla, L., Minocha, S., Kirkup, G., & Conole, G. is very interesting and confirms (as commented in my previous post) that is really silly to hope to use blogs informally to promote critical reading skills in those who did not have access to good quality basic education. The article describes a study done with a group of Masters students and their use of blogs. Although these students certainly had access to good quality basic education, there are still several aspects to be considered to achieve learning outcomes through the use of blogs. Thus they suggest a framework for their implementation.

This shows that the simple act of blogging doesn’t automatically promote the development of the thinking skills I’m interested in. As the authors cite, “Burgess argues that, to blog effectively students need to develop critical, creative and network literacies”. Not the other way around as I naively hoped. Well, at least it looks like now I’m getting a clearer picture. It’s ugly, but it’s clear.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Just read a very interesting post in E-AKO about challenging some usual ideas about m-learning. In his critique, among other very worth reading ideas, Nichtus once again expresses his views about formal education and its purposes. I couldn’t help but agree with what he said and that’s what bugged me… Specifically:

“the idea that [students] might develop the more complex skills of reasoning about information without having a good deal of it instantly available is silly.”

If that’s true—and I think it is—that’s really awful when you consider that very, very few people in Brazil have access to good quality formal education. Does this mean that the majority of Brazilian children and young adults are sentenced to being incapable of thinking critically to the extent of actually altering our current political/educational/economic situation? And most specifically, does it mean that the use of informal learning technologies such as blog writing used as a cheaper form of compensation for their lack of formal education would not be enough? Would that be a waste of time (and money)?

I would very much like to believe that informal learning could play some significant role in changing this picture. But… that’s perhaps just my utopian side speaking. Will I need to become even more cynical?

Friday, 1 May 2009

Peer pressure wins again. Yesterday, I finally joined Second Life. Will I be able to catch up with what’s been accomplished there in terms of education? OK, that’s expecting too much. Let me go more modestly. Will I be able to make sense of it? Will I be able to survive there? Will I finally overcome my embarrassment for not knowing anything about SL? Will I be wasting my time there when I have SO MUCH to read and learn in my first life? Will I just make a fool of myself? Sometimes I feel so desperately old-fashioned :( But I’m willing to jump into the darkness even if that means making a fool of myself. It won’t be the first time.

If anyone can help me with first steps tutorials, web sites for beginners, especially focused of SL uses for education, SL for dummies, etc, I will be forever thankful.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Citizen empowerment > media literacy > critical reading.

One of my favourite issues when discussing citizen empowerment is that of Critical Reading. To me, few things are as crucial to empowerment as media literacy, and critical reading is certainly part of it. According to Alec Couros's post, some popular Issues in (Digital) Media Literacy are “Offensive Content (Bad taste, Sexuality), Viral videos and Memes, Misinformation, Satire, Hoaxes, Scams & Phishing, Safety & Cyberbullying, Hate, Racism & Violence, Social Networks & Privacy”.

My hypothesis is that blogging – a form of informal e-learning, as I see it – can promote this skill. Considering Alec’s cited issues, I would argue that critical reading could prove useful in the identification and combat against many of them: misinformation, satire, hoaxes, scams, phishing, threats to one’s digital safety, cyberbullying, hate, racism and violence. It could also help protect people’s privacy. If this is true, why not foster blogging as a means to empower people as students, professionals and citizens?

Here are my presuppositions (which I have never tested empirically or otherwise):

- Blogging is a form of informal elearning
- Reading blogs foster critical reading
- Reading blogs which favour points of view opposite to one’s own views are more effective in promoting critical reading skills
- Engaging in dialogues through blog replies is more effective than just reading them

What are your views about my presuppositions? Have you come across research that confirms or disproves them?

Monday, 17 November 2008

I’ve been reading a bit about (digital) media literacy and its impact in the promotion of a participatory society. I’m particularly interested in investigating what role of education (including e-learning) should play in this process. Some argue that youth become digitally literate just by interacting with popular culture. Others say pedagogical and policy interventions are needed so as to foster equal access to opportunities for expression using new media, a clear understanding of how media shape perceptions, and socialization that prepares them to act as a media makers and community participants.

I tend to go along with the second opinion not least because of a small survey I carried out with some teenagers (15-19 years-old) about their Internet uses. Among other findings, I discovered (was I really surprised?) that, despite their easy access to the Internet, the great majority of them spend 100% of their time online in one or all of these 3 activities: email/IM, chat and social networking sites. I’m talking here about middle-class Brazilian students whose parents have in their majority finished a university course.

Now, I’m not saying there is no gain in digital literacy in these activities, but I just wonder how much critical, reflective and creative thinking is required while updating one’s profile, or finding out about someone’s new date. I don’t want to sound prudish and I definitely don’t think young people should not do these things. What I’m questioning here, and as mentioned above, what interests me is to define the role of education in the process of developing young people’s media literacy skills. As apparently they’re not getting a lot of it from their main current internet activities, how can elearning help shape their future as active, participatory citizens? That’s not a rhetoric question; I’d really be interested in having other people’s opinions.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

In Brazil we are approaching city elections. I thought this would be the appropriate moment for a flashback. Before I move to that, however, I would like to state my complete disgust for the task ahead of me: choosing from the local candidates the ones who are less dishonest, less incompetent, whose intentions are less evil... After our last elections I decided I wouldn’t do this anymore. I’m sick and tired of it, and I will only vote again when the political system concretely devises and applies a method to demand accountability of those elected.

I’m sure someone will say that this accountability is checked in the following elections: all you have o do is NOT vote for those who betrayed your vote and their own promises. Nonsense. In general, those who are elected occupy financial, economic, and marketing spaces that will vitally serve for manipulation. Their tentacles reach beyond our control, and, as a result, they accumulate money, information and souls, which will guarantee their next elections regardless of what they have done. That’s how it works and, so far, in the discussions on political reform, I’ve heard nothing that could threat this scheme. I can already hear those good souls saying that by refusing to participate I’m contributing to the status quo. I disagree. I’m more and more convinced that our participation through voting only legitimates the process. Maybe, when the number of those who refuse to cope with this process is large enough, some significant change will emerge.

Well, the topic is controversial and I said I’d bring a flashback. Here it goes again an amazing article about innovative and effective ways of thinking cities and their management: Remixing Cities . Maybe it will inspire someone.

Monday, 25 August 2008

I was just reading about the Information Overload Research Group (IORG) Inaugural Conference, which was held on July 15, 2008. It’s interesting to see who some of the participants are, and what they are up to. In this particular conference: David Goldes, Basex’ president, Max Christoff from Morgan Stanley, Shari Pfleeger Lawrence from the Rand Corporation, and Nathan Zeldes from Intel. All of them talking about the problems their organizations face with respect to information overload. It’s gotten to the point where their businesses are actually losing money: the cost of unnecessary interruptions plus recovery time (time spent getting back to where you were, if indeed you do get back there) to the U.S. economy is $650 billion as of 2007. That’s 28% of the knowledge worker’s day, while only 12% of the knowledge worker’s day is spent in thought or reflection.

In his post on IORG’s blog, Jonathan B. Spira, Chief Analyst at Basex and Vice President, Research, of IORG, comments about an interesting paradox described by David Levy, one of the presenters:

“just as we are creating new tools for knowledge work and collaboration (and as our economy is becoming more knowledge based), we are losing the time we need to think.”

As a way to overcome this predicament, Levy suggests “more contemplative practices into both work and academic settings”. A truly hard exercise in today’s world, but it’s indeed a pleasure to find that Caymmi was right after all! And, as an adopted ‘baiana’, weary of stereotyping jokes, I’m more than serious here. Much as Levy’s suggestion sounds misplaced in today’s world, I’m trying to commit myself to some contemplative, deep thinking exercise. Even if that means not getting all the new information I could be getting. Or maybe because of that.