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?