It is all connected!

I encountered INF537 Digital Futures Colloquium, near the end of my MEd KN & DI journey. It promised the opportunity to consider the impact of knowledge networks, of collaboration and innovation in digital cultures of learning and what this can mean for my professional development and practice.

From the start I was confronted by a repeating truth: in collaborative digital environments we learn with and from one another – whether it be with and from this cohort, our subject coordinator, industry experts, exemplary practitioners or thought leaders – as I wrote in my introductory blog post for this module (Wocke, 2019a). I involuntarily thought back to what some of the thought leaders and exemplary practitioners I came across had to say about a digital culture of learning:

  • Downes (2006) said knowledge consists of the network of connections formed from experience and interaction with a knowing community.
  • Brown (2000) said the Internet is not only an informational and social resource but a learning medium where understandings are socially constructed and shared.
  • Rheingold (2011) said we co-construct our learning in collaborative learning communities online.
  • Siemens (2014) said networked learning happens through external social spaces, where social systems and technology systems are now part of human knowledge.

It is, it seems, all about collaboratively learning in a connected knowing community. It was time to bring my learning into spaces where it can be socially constructed and shared. When I came across the term “outward-facing learning” in Module 1, it resonated immediately.  I was determined to develop as a participatory learner and share my thoughts as a connected learner during this module:

I started off by participating in every single discussion on the INF532 Padlet board and Flipgrid. When the Flipgrid slot was too short to share my view on communities of practice, I created and published my first podcast (inserted below).

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

This I shared in a blog post (Wocke, 2019b) and via Twitter (Wocke, 2019c). I was quite surprised when two members of the cohort actually listened and commented – I AM part of a community of collaborative learners, it seems!

During my research for the paper on Digital Scholarship, which I wrote about in A revolution by digital scholars (Wocke, 2019d), I realized that open access has developed further than just free and unrestricted access to research, it’s also about open data, transparency in peer review and an open approach to science assessment (“Openness Inspires Innovation”, n.d.). This convinced me to make this part of my practice and bring my personal research for the INF537 research paper into the open. I included in my project proposal links to my working data gathering documents, effectively giving open access to the project as it developed (see below).Project porposal for INF537 Assessment 3

Since scholars like Weller (2012) proclaims that blogging sits at the heart of being a modern academic and that newly constructed knowledge can be shared in so many new formats and media in the digital domain, I decided to further turn my learning “outward-facing” through blogging. I produced the narrative part of the data gathered for the INF537 research project into a series of  blogposts, that I called August Online, thereby further developing my reflective practice (Wocke, 2019e).

I have to be honest that not everything worked according to plan. In a post called Modelling Digital Scholarship (Wocke, 2019f), I proudly announced my intent to be authentic in making my learning “open”, by blogging out loud as I investigate digital scholarship and by posting a “draft” of my paper for my cohort members to comment on – REALLY practicing how I see knowledge creation developing in the digital era. Sadly, two factors kept me from reaching this goal: firstly, time constraints did not allow me to complete a draft in time for comments, and secondly, this (admittedly small) cohort proved on the whole to be disappointingly unresponsive and un-collaborative. None the less, all of this proved to be part of the learning curve, and at the end of this module I am not surprised to look back on my learning and find “It is all connected!


References

Brown, J. S. (2000). Growing up digital: How the web changes work, education, and the ways people learn. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 32(2), 11-20. Retrieved from http://www.johnseelybrown.com/Growing_up_digital.pdf

Downes, S. (2006). Learning networks and connective knowledge. In Collective intelligence and elearning. https://doi.org/10.4018/978-1-60566-729-4.ch001

Openness inspires innovation. (n.d.). Retrieved August 18, 2019, from PLOS website: https://www.plos.org/who-we-are

Rheingold, H. (2011, July 22). Learning reimagined: Participatory, peer, global, online [Blog post]. Retrieved from Connected Learning Alliance Blog: https://clalliance.org/blog/learning-reimagined-participatory-peer-global-online/

USC: Learning and Teaching. (2014, January 21). Overview of connectivism – Dr George Siemens [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yx5VHpaW8sQ

Weller, M. (2012, April 29). The virtues of blogging as scholarly activity [Blog post]. Retrieved from The Chronicle of Higher Education website: https://www.chronicle.com/article/The-Virtues-of-Blogging-as/131666

Wocke, G. (2019a, July 15). INF537 digital futures colloquium – A new journey [Blog post]. Retrieved from Gretha Reflecting website: https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/grethaw/2019/07/15/inf537-digital-futures-colloquium-a-new-journey/

Wocke, G. (2019f, July 29). Modelling digital scholarship [Blog post]. Retrieved from Gretha Reflecting website: https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/grethaw/2019/07/26/modeling-digital-scholarship/

Wocke, G. (2019b, August 3). Communities of practice: An audio reflection [Blog post]. Retrieved from Gretha Reflecting website: https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/grethaw/2019/08/03/communities-of-practice-an-audio-reflection/

Wocke, G. (2019c, August 3). #INF537: My reflection on Communities of Practice, where I applied Wenger’s definition to a Facebook group for school librarians in my PLN, got too long for flipgrid and I posted a podcast on my blog https://bit.ly/2YHxHbY [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/GrethaWocke/status/1157528399893729281

Wocke, G. (2019e, August 4). Why this? [Blog post]. Retrieved from August Online website: https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/augustonline/page/3/

Wocke, G. (2019d, September 5). A revolution by digital scholars [Blog post]. Retrieved from Gretha Reflecting website: https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/grethaw/2019/09/05/a-revolution-by-digital-scholars/

How (and why) has my online behaviour changed during my master’s studies? INF537 Assessment 3

This blogpost contains the gist (some bits summarised, sometimes blatantly copied and pasted) ) of my INF537 Assessment item 3.


The Internet is, without a doubt, the most universally important technological invention of my lifetime. This transformative medium, the result of a convergence of developments in digital, communication, and mobile technologies, has allowed for the creation of an online, networked society where we can learn, work, create, play and socially mingle (Brown, 2000, p. 12). For more than two years now, as part of this Master of Education program, I have been immerged in and occupied with studies focussing on aspects of our interaction with this environment. Through my studies my understanding of how knowledge is created and exchanged in online networked environments, and how these different knowledge interactions transform learning, has radically changed and caused conceptual shifts in my online behaviour and relationships – but exactly how and why?

Here is what I did… Early in my studies I created a map of my engagement with online technology, according to White and Le Cornu’s (2011) Visitors and Residents Typology for Online Engagement,

For this assignment I created a second map, this time created at the end of my studies.

The hoped for is a better understanding of how I have developed as a connected learner, knowledge creator and educator. Understanding “how” and “why” I engage with digital resources, tools and spaces will better inform decisions about my online social presence and time spent online. It will also allow me to model exemplary behaviour to my students and colleagues and assist them in being aware of and developing good practice and habits.

All this led me to the question: “How (and why) has my online behaviour changed during my master’s studies?”.

Autoethnography, is a self-focused, intentional and systematic ethnographic approach to collecting, analysing and interpreting data about how the self is influenced and shaped in a specific socio-cultural context (Ngunjiri, Hernandez, & Chang, 2010, p. 2). This approach proved an ideal fit for the purposes of this study, where I needed to collect, analyse and interpret data about how my behaviour is influenced and shaped in the online world. To compensate for the fact that autoethnography concentrates on a single participant, it is essential to include metrics that provide multiple perspectives on the cultural phenomenon being studied and therefor an analytical autoethnographical approach was followed, where data was gathered through self-observation and self-reflection (Cohen, Manion, & Morrison, 2011, p. 128; Chang, 2008, p. 115). For self-observation purposes, detailed factual data about online actions and transactions, and related thoughts and emotions, were gathered and recorded systematically in spreadsheet format in a daily log for a designated period of one week. For self-reflection purposes, a “field-journal” was kept in the form of daily blog entries. For four weeks, reflections on my online engagement, this research study, and how it all related to knowledge networking theories, were recorded in these blog posts.

In autoethnographical research, data analysis and interpretation are interwoven processes in which the researcher “zooms in” (analysis) and “zooms out” (interpretation) of the collected data. Analysis allows attention to details, while interpretation allows a holistic view of the data and cultural context under study (p. 162-164). Interpreting the data in terms of the modes of engagement developed by White and De Cornu (2017) allowed me to create a mapping of my current online engagement , as shown in figure 2 above.

The final step in this study was to determine what a comparison of the two mappings would reveal about changes in my online behaviour. Cohen, Manion and Morrison (2011) suggest a narrative as one way of organising and presenting data interpretation, reasoning that a narrative can help the (auto)ethnographer and reader to understand the experiences of both the participant and the cultural phenomena being studied (p. 553). Ellis, Adams, & Bochner (2011) argues that autoethnography is both method and product, validating the fact that the final product of the research process is an autoethnography – a written interpretation of the findings, in which I could relate my online modes of engagement to aspects of the theories I had studied (p. 273).

Did analysis of the data inform my answers, and does the conclusions allow me to answer my inquiry questions?

  • What does a current mapping of my online behaviour look like in terms of the V&R framework? The new V&R map shows clear resident behaviour in both personal and institutional quadrants, with only a few applications in the visitors end of the continuum.
  • How does a map of my online behaviour at the culmination my studies differ from a map created at the beginning of my studies? New social media tools have appeared in both personal and institutional areas with strong resident use. Use of Facebook is more residential, but now almost entirely professional/institutional. The move of Google searches towards the resident end of the continuum is an indication of a better understanding that all transactions executed while being logged in to a Google account, leaves a trace, whether intended or not.
  • What are the possible reasons for the changes in my online behaviour (if any)? A strong belief in the value of a personal learning network and in communities of practice developed during my studies. This is probably responsible for a shift in the use of Facebook, but also in the introduction of Twitter and LinkedIn as professional networking tools. A subsequent general increase in use of mobile technology and online spaces may be responsible for the increased use of personal application in resident mode.

The research question was adequately answered in the final autoethnographical narrative, finding a correlation between the study of concepts such as communities of practice, personal learning networks, social networking and connected learning.

All research should have a beneficial or practical application for others and qualitative research methods should help us to better understand a phenomenon in a given community or setting (Méndez, 2013, p. 282). While the goal with the study was of an entirely personal nature, and can be judged as successful as such, the method and techniques can be of value when transferred to other contexts. Individuals, groups and institutions wanting to engage in a process of systematic sociological introspection to better understand personal or organisational online engagement can benefit from implementing the methods developed in this study.

It is clear to me that my online behaviour has changed significantly – and will probably continue to do so, as I have come to believe that learning IS social, it IS a network forming process and knowledge? Well Siemens may be correct: knowledge may be a networked product, but I like Stephen Downes’s explanation that knowledge may consist of a network of connections, formed from experience and interactions with a knowing community better.

More about this in the next, which may well be the last, blog post on Gretha Reflecting…


REFERENCES

Brown, J. S. (2000). Growing up digital: How the web changes work, education, and the ways people learn. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 32(2), 11-20. Retrieved from http://www.johnseelybrown.com/Growing_up_digital.pdf

Chang, H. (2008). Autoethnography as method. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/40010651_Autoethnography_as_Method

Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. R. B. (2011). Research methods in education (7th ed.). New York: Routledge.

Downes, S. (2006). Learning networks and connective knowledge. In Collective intelligence and elearning. https://doi.org/10.4018/978-1-60566-729-4.ch001

Ellis, C., Adams, T. E., & Bochner, A. P. (2011). Autoethnography: An overview. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12(1). Retrieved from http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095

Evaluating digital services: A visitors and residents approach. (2014, February). Retrieved from JISC website: https://www.jisc.ac.uk/full-guide/evaluating-digital-services#

Méndez, M. (2013). Autoethnography as a research method: Advantages, limitations and criticisms. Colombian Applied Linguistics Journal, 15(2). Retrieved from http://www.scielo.org.co/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0123-46412013000200010

Ngunjiri, F. W., Hernandez, C.-A. C., & Chang, H. (2010). Living autoethnography: Connecting life and research. Journal of Research Practice, 6(11). Retrieved from http://jrp.icaap.org/index.php/jrp/article/view/241

USC: Learning and Teaching. (2014, January 21). Overview of connectivism – Dr George Siemens [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yx5VHpaW8sQ

 

White, D., & Le Cornu, A. (2011). Visitors and residents: A new topology of online engagement. First Monday, 11(6). Retrieved from https://firstmonday.org/article/view/3171/3049

White, D., & Le Cornu, A. (2017). Using ‘Visitors and residents’ to visualise digital practices. First Monday, 22(8). Retrieved from https://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/7802/6515

 

Communities of Practice – an audio reflection

As part of Module 2 of INF537 we are invited to think about Communities of Practice (CoP)…. Here I share my “thoughts and experiences with ‘Communities of practice’ – theory and real life observations” in a podcast (since the 1:30 on flipgrid was way to short).

Communities of practice must be one of the oldest forms of social learning around. Etienne Wenger and his co-authors and associates provide us with a useful definition and framework with which to describe and investigate CoPs. In the podcast embedded below, I discuss my understanding of this form of social learning and investigate the extent to which a Facebook group for school librarians: Int’l Library Connection functions as a CoP.

Listen to my reflection here… This is my first attempt at creating a podcast, part of my personal challenge during INF537 to be a participatory learner and share my thoughts as a connected learner.

 

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

 

Knowing… the what, why, how and who

Way back in 1996 the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development identified 4 different kinds of knowledge which are important in the knowledge-based economy: know-what, know-why, know-how and know-who. I have found this view helpful in building my understanding of knowledge, and knowledge networks and communities of practice.

Here is a short summary of the types of information identified and how it was traditionally “learnt”:

TYPES OF KNOWLEDGE HOW IT IS ACQUIRED
know-what (facts) this can be seen as “information” and learnt from books, lectures, etc.
know-why (scientific knowledge)
know-how (skills and capabilities) learning by doing
know-who (social relations that allow access to specialists) learned in social practice

The digital and connected nature of our information society is, however, changing how we interact with information and how we acquire these types of knowledge:

Knowledge which can be reduced to information (know-what and know-why) is no longer scarce, it is more than abundant and we can access it when and where we want to. A consequence of this information-rich environment is a decrease in the need to know-what and know-why.

Know-how, to the skills and capability to do something, has traditionally been learnt socially: a student learning from an authority figure, and practically: “learning-by-doing”. Information and communication technologies are also changing the nature of know-how:  the practical and social aspects are being replaced in some cases by the affordances of technology. I can learn from an instructional video, I do not need a master or a practical setting in which to learn the know-how of many skills. With technology, it becomes possible to codify some forms of know-how and make it more explicit. Other forms of know-how are more tacit – embodied in expertise and best transferred in the form of stories or through coaching or apprenticeship (Archer, 2009, p.68). These types of knowledge creation and transfer can be facilitated in communities or networks of practice.

Know-who relates to the social relationships which enable access to experts and their knowledge. The know-who seem to be present in knowledge networks: those who know, those who are learning, and the connected relationships between them. It relates to socially embedded knowledge and the mechanisms for social creation of knowledge which cannot can be facilitated by ICT (but not replaced by it).


REFERENCES

Archer, N. (2009). Classification of communities of practice. In E-collaboration: Concepts, methodologies, tools, and applications (pp. 67-77). Hershey, PA.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (1996). The knowledge based economy (Report No. OCDE/GD(96)102). Retrieved from https://www.oecd.org/sti/sci-tech/1913021.pdf