Teague's Tech Treks

Learning Technology and other Tech Observations by Dr. Helen Teague

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Participating in an Online Community~Week 4 Post 1

Disclaimer: This post is part of course requirements following this assignment: Extend your identity in the direction of your career path and participate in a new online community. Interact online using your projected identity for at least six weeks. Think deeply about identity and learning and blog twice a week about your experience. Take time to analyze the meaning, power, and constraints of the community on your learning.

Week 4, Post 1

e-Learning in Developing Countries is an open group on Facebook. It has over 8,700 members, from the US and international. After a quick scan of the first page of the membership list, I am pleasantly surprised to see the faces of  3 members of my EDLT cadre and 3 of my friends on Facebook. In addition, 3 of my LinkedIn connections are also members of the group. One author, Marc Pretsky,  whom I quoted in a recent paper and an upcoming post on this blog is also a member of this group.  One of my Professors is also a member of this group. I did not know any of this before I joined the group.

Here is the posted description of the group:

The challenges facing e-learning in developing countries are ongoing and require everyone’s attention. Global learning and cultural exchange via e-learning can unite and contribute to co-existence and world peace. Therefore, we have created a group on Facebook to collaborate and hopefully bridge the digital gap so that all learners can benefit from e-learning. Please join the group so we can collectively search for ways to promote, develop, and encourage others to see the value of connecting the world via e-learning.
What are some of the challenges developing countries face in implementing e-learning programs? How can we work together to overcome barriers? What are some of the success stories? Join us to better understand the realities and to propose solutions.

I joined this group because I wanted to take literally the portion of the assignment that advised, “Extend your identity in the direction of your career path.” I reasoned that my career path will eventually embrace e-learning in developing countries. Because this group is located on Facebook, I must join as my authentic identity. (I supposed I could go to the elaborate measures of setting up a new identity/page on Facebook, but this seems a bit disingenuous.  As I settle in to this community, I’m reminded of Wenger’s overview of the groups to which we belong:

“Yet, if we care to consider our own life…we can all construct a fairly good picture of communities of practice we belong to now, those we belonged to in the past, and those we would like to belong to in the future.” Etienne Wenger (1998)Communities of practice, learning, meaning, and identity (page 6).

There are contrasts between the participatory culture of the Sci-Fi group and the e-Learning in Developing Countries group. In the e-Learning in Developing Countries group posting is more spartan as are frequency of response and conversation. As I scan the posts,  it appears that four or five members are consistently engaged and posting.  Jenkins (2008) explains, “On all sides and at every level, the term participation has emerged as a governing concept, albeit one surrounded by conflicting expectations” (p.175). The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Book Club is a perfect “first-boyfriend” in my social foray into online groups: it is inviting, attentive, participatory, and fun. I am not sure about the transferability of experience to other groups. I have the “conflicting expectations” which Jenkins’ describes. Is it possible that different online groups can serve different needs?

Without the directive of this assignment, I do not think I would have sought to find this group on increasing learning opportunities in developing countries. I would have been content to wait for the latest dateline from Seymour Papert’s work or an Edutopia post. But, because of the impetus of this assignment, I am beginning to explore new ideas from innovators in eLearning. While I am remaining in the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Book Club, I have also expanded my participation to the e-Learning in Developing Countries group.

~~~

Book Sources:

Jenkins, Henry (2008). Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. NYU Press.

Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice, learning, meaning, and identity. (1st ed. ed.). Cambridge Univ Press.

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