Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Blog-on and teacher-coloured glasses

First, 11 comments. Wahoo and thankyou. Of course this reawakens my need (duty as a community member) to engage with the blogs of others. Reciprocal fairness is important, and I think should be explicitly stated in a new community. A case of making expected community norms explicit (Australian Flexible Learning Framework). Also amounts to how we socialise, we will naturally miagrate away from those who do not respond in kind and towards those who do. However this was not going to be my 'point for the day.'

Horses-for-courses was. Now I should research that phrase but I want to go home soon, and what I want to it to suggest is that as facilitators we should support tools that best meet the needs and competencies of the community. Blogs seem a more mature tool, are more demanding: demand more confidence and time, require more effort to go to other blogs, requires more effort to put often spontaneous, unstructured thoughts of others together (which may often need to be deconstructed and the context inferred - good understanding of a person's context and 'voice' or personality may only come with reading a lot of their blog (Alexander springs to mind).

My feeling is that with a newbie community, little experienced might be better to start with a discussion board (forum) : easier to comment on a topic (less personal). Over time as confidence builds, include blogs. This is from the perspective of building a professional learning community of maths teachers which I am researching and hoping to help build. The blogs seem to me to be important in providing a tool which teachers can use to reflectively document their learning journey, how their understanding ois changing, particular issues that have transformed their thinking, sharing 'a-ha' moments with the hope they might be of benefit to others. A good tool for applying the action research model of professional development.

I also see the value of the personal voice coming out in blogs. It is in the blogs much more than the forums that we are likely to see meaning being made, and see learning and PD occuring. In many cases they might also add to a sense of ownership, particularly if they are a boundaried blog (i.e. all blogs togetehr on one site), as opposed to a Single Blog/Blogger Centric Community, the Central Connecting Topic Community and the Boundaried Community. Nancy White has a great podcast or article (your choice) on blogging and community.

As Leigh's comment to the previous post suggests, like water, community members in a blogosphere will find their level, they will find their niches which will usually be places that match their level of safety and provide the level of energy and interest and relevance to motivate connecting and reciprocal commenting. Some potential dangers though?: feelings of exclusion, elitism, missing out on meaty/worthy content, the formation of self-benefiting subgroups that is a little hidden under a bushel (weird, but Hayse's poetic discourse is a little contagious, though maybe this is the reality of me writing in my blog and now feeling more comfortable to express my voice - relates a bit to what you said in an earlier comment trishus; and also raises the issue of is it safe to share who you really are to big wide world - open/closed).

But yet I still see the forum as being the central tool for sharing information and collaborating. For my mind, with many members, topic structured comments with easy-to-follow threads of ideas will probably be of greater worth than chronological blogs for a professional learning community with clearly defined goals.

In conclusion: It is not an either/or (like most dichotomies we as humans love to generate), but rather a complementary association.





And to end: Thankyou to Leigh for raising the challenge of taking off our teacher glasses and looking at a facilitator's role with new eyes. What sprung to mind: a teacher-facilitator thinks about facilitating learning; an unincumbered facilitator tries to create?/ massage an environment that is conducive for learning to occur. More thoughts on that later.

1 comment:

artie said...

Hello marcel,

Excellent post!

"Reciprocal fairness is important, and I think should be explicitly stated in a new community."

I think that trad-form is something that we should agree upon before agreeing upon rules of netiquette. Those people who rip down traditional forms that have been time tested and proven to secure equal rights and responsibilities to all members should not expect the proponents of democratic form to support them.

"Blogs seem a more mature tool...

I also see the value of the personal voice coming out in blogs. It is in the blogs much more than the forums that we are likely to see meaning being made

like water, community members in a blogosphere will find their level, they will find their niches which will usually be places that match their level of safety and provide the level of energy and interest and relevance to motivate connecting and reciprocal commenting. Some potential dangers though?: feelings of exclusion, elitism, missing out on meaty/worthy content, the formation of self-benefiting subgroups that is a little hidden under a bushel"

I think that open circuits actually exclude people! The open circuit is the Outernet. The Real Internet is being conducted on closed circuits. Those on the Outernet are there trying to find a door that opens into the Real Internet.

"is it safe to share who you really are to big wide world - open/closed"

No. I'll never put anything personal about myself on the Internet unless it's on a closed circuit with people I can trust. I cannot trust anyone on an open circuit.

"But yet I still see the forum as being the central tool for sharing information and collaborating. For my mind, with many members, topic structured comments with easy-to-follow threads of ideas will probably be of greater worth than chronological blogs for a professional learning community with clearly defined goals."

I agree with you here but think that we should make a committed and deliberate effort to push forward with learning a wide variety of discussion forms. Random form is too restricting of expression and is not conducive to decision making processes.

"In conclusion: It is not an either/or (like most dichotomies we as humans love to generate), but rather a complementary association."

RightO! I see it as a combination of platforms with different degrees of openess and closedness. We are doing that now, here in this course.

Marcel, thanks for this possibility thinking that you are bringing. I hope that you develop this further

:)
artie