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.

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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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Participating in an Online Community~Week 3 Post 2

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 3, Post 2

social iconsI like participating in the SciFi and Fantasy book club.  I have not made my reading list public and have continued in my identity of “ByTheFire Reading.” In my postings, I try to keep my language gender neutral. My reasoning is that responses from my group may be different if my newbie status is coupled with my female gender. However, as I read over my discussion posts, my choice of flowery words, hyperbole, and oversharing proves I am not fooling anyone!

The participation in the group is robust. Whenever I log-in, I see that there has been recent activity within the hour, whatever hour it is. I think this is because the group has an international membership so it is daylight somewhere. Also, I’ve learned from reading the discussion posts that many of the group members work during the day and read/connect at night.

There is an ardent commitment to shield readers in process of reading a certain book from plot spoilers. Posts are moderated and mild spoilers are redacted. Heavy spoilers are moved to discussion forums for those who have finished a particular book. I receive email communication from the group in a digest form. I chose the weekly digest email and it reflects daily posts and invitations to monthly book clubs and announcements and author chats.

The emphasis on connection and interaction reinforces Wenger’s explanation:

As we define these enterprises and engage in their pursuit together, we interact with each other and with the world and we tune our relations with each other and with the world accordingly. In other words, we learn. Over time, this collective learning results in practices that reflect both the pursuit of our enterprises and the attendant social relations. These practices are thus the property of a kind of community created over time by the sustained pursuit of a shared enterprise. It makes sense, therefore, to call these kinds of communities communities of practice. (p. 45)

…just as it would be in the galaxies far, far away in the Sci-Fi group from whose members I learned so much.

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Book Source: Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice, learning, meaning, and identity. (1st ed. ed.). Cambridge University Press

Wenger, Etienne (1998-07-28). Communities of Practice (Learning in Doing: Social, Cognitive and Computational Perspectives) (p. 45). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.

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Participating in an Online Community~Week 3, 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 3, Post 1

Something I read today fits perfectly with the Community of Practice I’ve joined.

Change is the one constant that we will always have in our world and if we do not grow and learn to embrace it, then we will become irrelevant.  This mindset towards learning is only one part of the solution; making the connections with our learners is also equally (if not more) significant. ~George Couros, The Principal of Change Blog

This ability to accept change, envision change, and promote change is one of the many things I appreciate about members of the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Book Group on Goodreads. Most of the time, those I encounter avoid change and go to all sorts of extremes to avoid it. But, reading through the posts accumulated in my group, I can tell this is not the case. The creativity among the group is extensive, with some members being readers and writers of science fiction. One person even translates science fiction books into Lithuanian. During the previous week, from September 8 – September 14, there were 232 new posts from 44 discussions.

A couple of the group members have become my Goodreads’ “friends.” They have encouraged me to ease up on the anonymity I’ve attached to my identity. They have especially encouraged me to make my book list public instead of private. But I am afraid to pull back the curtain on my historical fiction, Janet Evanovich and cookbook-heavy bookshelf.

I am behind on the monthly book club reading selection. “Brave New World” is the choice for September. I find that the assignments for my classes have thrown me into an undertow under the tsunami of assignments and textbook reading. I decide to download the audio version of the book and hope to catch up during my 10-minute commutes, Tuesday’s oil change, and various lunch breaks. The version I download features narration by Michael York. “Now, we’re cooking with Peanut Oil,” as Phil, The Duck Dynasty Patriarch would say.

After listening to a few minutes of York’s narration I can already tell that his differentiation of character traits and the voices he uses, adds texture and interest for me. Also the comments of others in this sub-group add depth too. I like how everyone’s comments are respected. Out of 33 comments, (mine is 34th), there are no reactionary backlash comments or over-posters.

Book clubs such as these, within the already established Sci-Fi and Fantasy Book group community, mesh well with Wenger’s description of landscapes of practice. “As communities of practice differentiate themselves and also interlock with each other, they constitute a complex social landscape of shared practices, boundaries, peripheries, overlaps, connections, and encounters. … The texture of continuities and discontinuities of this landscape is defined by practice, not by institutional affiliations; second, the landscape so defined is weaving of both boundaries and peripheries.” (p.118)

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Book Source: Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice, learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge University Press.

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Participating in an Online Community~Week 2, Post 2

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. This post updated on October 18, 2013.

~~~

Week 2 Continued

I found an informative study by M. McLure Wasko and S. Faraj that researches why people are reluctant to divulge information online. Wasko and Faraj  test their hypothesis “that knowledge can also be considered a public good, owned and maintained by a community.” Their study is titled, “It is what one does”: why people participate and help others in electronic communities of practice and here is the link to this study.

The Sci-Fi Discussion Group is a robust community with frequent postings, interesting topics, quick response by the moderators, and encouragement. As a newbie, I felt welcomed and encouraged with almost immediate responses to my Introduction and request for science fiction titles to read. They never displayed judgment at my lack of experience with their favorite literary genre of science fiction. They encouraged me to read additional titles and I have added them to my Goodreads bookshelf. They have also invited me to join their monthly book club which, for September, is reading “Brave New World.”

I wanted to increase my interaction with the Sci-Fi Discussion Group. My motivation is based on wanting to reciprocate for the attention and posts I’ve received. My experience somewhat reiterates Wasko and Faraj’s conclusion, “When knowledge is considered a public good, knowledge exchange is motivated by moral obligation and community interest rather than by narrow self-interest.” I can’t say that I felt a moral obligation to participate, but I did feel community interest and an interest in participating.

Checking in today on the progress of my Discussion post thread suggesting a theme topic to include in the Themes Discussion Board in the Sci-Fi Discussion Group from my post earlier in the week. I was disheartened that my I had not received an email notifying me of any responses to my suggestion. When I logged-in to the group I saw that my post had not posted after all. I must have written it in Sunday’s blog post and neglected to copy and paste it to the group board. It is difficult to embody Jenkins “participatory media” when I don’t participate!

Absentmindedness seems to be a recurring theme for me this week as I have already left an email I thought I sent on the screen of my home computer, only to find it when I returned from work and I forgot neglected to pay an online bill that I marked “paid.” A quick search of Wenger’s name and “absentmindedness” rendered no results so there is no curricular adaptation that I can make.

I quickly upload my post and respond to a couple of threads by others in the community. I also feel an obligation to reply to the book suggestions from my fellow community members.

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Book Sources:

Jenkins, Henry (2008-09-01). Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide (Kindle Locations 3040-3041). NYU Press. Kindle Edition.

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

Study Source: Wasko, Molly McLure and Faraj, Samur (2000).  It is what one does”: why people participate and help others in electronic communities of practice. The Journal of Strategic Information SystemsVolume 9, Issues 2–3, September 2000, Pages 155–173.

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Participating in an Online Community~Week 2, 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.

~~~

Participating in an Online Community~Week 2, Post 1

CofPLevelsofParticipationToday’s activity is all about nomination and identity. Etienne Wenger defines Identity as “Learning by Becoming.”  I nominated myself to move from “new novice” status to “apprenticeship” status in my CoP Sci-Fi and Fantasy Book Club discussion group. I would like to become an apprentice, or, to fit Wenger’s model label, part of the occasional group.

Gladwell writes that people need 10,000 hours of Practice to achieve expert status. I have only been a member of my CoP for less than a month so I maybe have ten hours of practice. I am applying a social media construct of Moore’s Law to my participation. If information doubles every 18 months, then surely identity role status should progress with as much exponentiation as well.

I decided to participate in a new Discussion Forum. I chose the “Give Us Your Themes” forum begun by Zena*, whose identity is “The Zaphod.” Zena began this thread in April, 2013 asking for the expertise of the group:

“Ok, so it’s not always easy coming up with a good list of themes every  month for people to vote on. So we want to hear form our awesome members what themes you like. We will use this thread to build a master list of themes. Each month we’ll pick on the the themes for the group to nominate books for. We want to reduce the amount of polls down to just the book pick polls…This thread won’t be closed. I’ll make a second post and keep updating it as we get more themes given as well as marking them off as we use them. You don’t have to give a reason for the theme and you can submit multiple themes. Just mark whether it’s sci-fi or fantasy. Zena, The Zaphod

Activity responses were most concentrated in the first days after Zena’s post with 35 themes offered. I did not see the theme I was considering as my theme addition.  Posts continued with a periodic suggestions until the last post on September 6, 2013.

On August 26th, the Discussion Board members had to wrestle with the question of whether it was ok to copy themes from another group. Within 90 minutes it was decided in the affirmative. Now the list expanded to include an additional 18 themes. I still did not see the theme I was considering as my addition. The last theme which suggested Magical Realism was posted on September 6.

Since my theme was not listed yet, I decided to venture forth from newbie-ville and raise my virtual hand. I posted:

“Still new to the group, but I would like to add the theme of “Creative Problem Solving” in the Science Fiction section. Thanks!”

Short, sweet, concise with only a hint of forced gratitude at the end.

~~~

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

*Zena, The Zaphod is a pseudonym

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Participating in an Online Community~Week 1, Post 2

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.
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Week 1 Continued
My first post about joining an online community concluded with my Introduction submission to the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Book Club on Goodreads.

I am a newcomer or novice in the group. In Wenger’s Levels of Participation in Communities of Practice model below, I would label myself as part of the Peripheral Group…at the outer limits of the Peripheral Group, pun intended.

CofPLevelsofParticipation http://4oops.edublogs.org/files/2013/09/CofPLevelsofParticipation-trcxdj.png

Rereading my Introductory submission, I can see a few of my personality traits evident in just a few lines of text. First, I see my yen for excessive openness and inclusion: (Hi Everyone: every-single-one-of-you-no-matter-what-you-may-be-doing-right-now.) Also I see almost a defensive and guarded persona, explaining away my lack of science-fiction book cred: (I have enjoyed Fantasy books since junior high and high school, but I have never really read much Science Fiction and I really don’t know why.) Then, the community organizer/teacher in me takes over and I end the Introduction with an approval-seeking assignment for the membership: (I wonder: does Hitchhiker’s Guide “fit” in Science Fiction?).

That this group accepted my group membership request is truly amazing.

There are time in our lives when learning is intensified: when situations shake our sense of familiarity, when we are challenged beyond our ability to respond, when we wish to engage in new practices and seek to join new communities.” Etienne Wenger, Communities of Practice, page 7

This summer has arched in the direction of Wenger’s description of “learning intensified.” I began a new job with new computer systems, organizational systems, and interpersonal systems. I also took on two new clients and needed to learn their Sharepoint system, curriculum writing practices, billing practices, presentation modules, and in the case of one new client, their new Android Tablet that I would demo to other school districts.  And I also began a doctoral program, with many new people in my Learning Cadre and new professors and support professionals to meet, learn about, and learn from their expertise.

These coinciding events did shake my “sense of the familiar.” They approach the fiery volcanic eruptions described by Wenger. Two of the four components of Social Learning Theory which have been the most necessary for me to explore and integrate have been social structure and situated experience.

Gratifyingly, I have experienced both agency and interpersonal conversations in the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Book Discussion Groups on Goodreads. I am already being a member of several communities under my authentic identity. The parameters of this assignment are to join a group under an alternate identity. I chose a gender neutral name for this group identity. I choose “ByTheFire Reading” (i.e. “ByTheFire” is my first name and “Reading” is my surname.) I keep my reading list preferences closed to keep the gender neutrality, reasoning that if group members see my reading list the proverbially reading identity jig will be up.

I was surprised by how quickly my introduction received reply. My Introduction was posted on August 25 at  1:17 pm. I received a reply and an invitation within 12 hours. I was shocked. The group moderator, Chloe*, was kind and inviting and non-judgmental of my self-assigned fledgling science fiction reader status. Her tone and inviting response is something I need to remember to use with others. As a newcomer, I felt included very quickly, which, according to Wenger, is “essential for transformation of identities.” By responding so quickly to my timid request to connect, Penny accorded to me Wenger’s sense of meaning. Of all the components of Wenger’s Social Learning Theory, meaning is the most important. Gray would nod in agreement and add that “central to social behavior is the notion of meaning.”

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Book Source: Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice, learning, meaning, and identity. (1st ed. ed.). Cambridge Univ Pr.
and also

Gray, D. E. (2009). Doing research in the real world (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications.

*Chloe is a pseudonym

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Participating in an Online Community~Week 1, 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.
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Week 1, Post 1

“We can all construct a fairly good picture of the 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, Communities of Practice, page 6.

The group I choose must proceed “in the direction” of my career path. This leaves lots of choices because my career path has been varied, with my dives in and out of education, banking, business, technology integration, professional staff development, hospital program admin., the LLC, writing, and now, higher education.  At this time, because of my Doctoral studies and the innovative things I am learning, which future path I’ll take is also undetermined. However, I do feel inclined that whatever direction my career path goes, I will be showing people new things. I need what Joe Gerstandt describes as social gravity which is “the force that attracts opportunity, ideas, and information. Social gravity creates intersections with other people.” And who better to encompass innovative and creative thinking than Science Fiction readers!

This seems to track with the Science Fiction book I’m reading. There are so many possibilities for problem-solving and plot devices in Science Fiction books. One of my favorites things to do is read book recommendations on Goodreads, especially the opinions of my daughter. I originally joined Goodreads to keep up with her reviews and receive book recommendations. My participation was sporadic at best. I had never joined a Group on Goodreads. (Actually, I am not a big joiner of many Groups.) But this assignment from class wasn’t going to finish itself, so last Sunday, August 25, 2013, I joined the Science Fiction Writer’s Group.

This group fits Wenger’s definition of a Community of Practice (CoP) because:

1.) group members share a common interest in Science Fiction, which correlates to Wenger’s “Mutual Engagement”
2.) there is a stated purpose to extend knowledge in Science Fiction genre, which correlates to Wenger’s “Joint Enterprise”
3.) group members learn from each other through their mutually beneficial sharing relationship, which correlates to Wenger’s “Shared Repertoire”

Here is my first post, which was an Introduction post.

Hi Everyone, I am “ByTheFire Reading” and this is my first post in my first group on Goodreads. I am currently reading “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” I have enjoyed Fantasy books since junior high and high school, but I have never really read much Science Fiction and I really don’t know why. I would like to find the answer here. And I wonder, does Hitchhiker’s Guide “fit” in Science Fiction? Any answers and recommendations are welcome.

The SciFi and Fantasy Book Club has 9887 members and 3 moderators. The 3 moderators are known as the “Czar,” “Czarina,” and “Originator.” Members reside across the globe, but apparently confined only to our planet.

~~~

Book Source:

Gerstandt, Joe. (2012). Social Gravity: Harnessing the Natural Laws of Relationships [Kindle DX version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com

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

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