The Web of Identity

Marguerite Koole from Athabasca and Lancaster Universities is presenting her paper, The Web of Identity: Selfhood and Belonging in Online Learning. She did a distance-learning master’s degree, and she felt disconnected with her faculty there, without any face-to-face engagement. She experienced few ah-ha moments within the required discussion forums. She did not relate to other  students in the program, and as a result of not feeling connected and engaged, she began exploring identity and how the individual differentiates between the self and other.

Her work around identity was influenced by Ricoeur (1992), Mead (1934), Ferreday, Jones, and Hodgson (2006). She was also interested in impressions management from Goffman (1959) and also saw Foucault’s work on the technologies of the self. She then demonstrated how these issues from Goffman could be interpreted through a Foucauldian lens, and then presented her Web of Identity Model. She includes an element of Cognitive Resonance component, which is an individual’s identityt as reflected or refracted through the strategies with the final goals to achieve a comfortable level of resonance and harmony.

There were numerous implications for learning, and it will be intersting to see how this model develops over time. I think that the follow-up questions at the end, many of which were very theoretical, demonstrates how rich this area may be.

Reading screens: A critical visual analysis

Nice to see Zoe Williamson and Jen Ross speaking again, this time about WebQuest projects in schools as part of a joint national museum initiative. Great to hear about Webquests again, as I recall using these a number of years ago when I taught high school.

The WebQuests in this project included developing critical thinking and interpreting skills using resources from at least 3 of the partner museums. These are not value-neutral exercises (after all, what education is devoid of some values or another?), and they are based on deep assumptions around teaching and learning. Since some of the websites were not even accessible via some of the schools they worked with, the researchers referred to this as irelated to ssues of control, restraint, and surveillance.

They were able  to show us an example of a WebQuest from the Wallace Collection. The pages were colorful and framed clearly to direct what student learners should do and where they should go next. It is instructor-focused, with clear instructions for the students to follow. There were no examples of Web 2.0 or learner-focused screens or locations. They then demonstrated a possibility for how these WebQuests can be redesigned to be more consistent with their own experience as being more open-ended and student-focused. As a former instructional (learning designer, I always find this sort of work interesting).

They made a good point about how students continued to click ahead to get to the task they had to accomplish to therefore be complient, and not necessarily engaged in the pages and the learning. Alas, their work demonstrates that while more work and advancement for using technologies in education are increasing, a lot of work still remains to be done.

Methodologies of design for network learning (MOPEM)

Helle Wentzer is speaking about her work that addresses her work with MOPEM. She is bulding on Hegel’s work, the dialectical result of home – out – home movement. Not sure I am able to follow the Hegel (and Gadamer) references, but will trust their work informs Helle’s research and will read the paper after the session.

Ahh, the true, good, and beautiful–I recall them from my philosophical studies. Alas, she is reading (perhaps from her work?) at us, and it is all going a bit fast for me as I am struggling to recall what some of these major thinkers said, and how they were being used in her work. Of course, given some of the presentation I have experienced today, it may just be me considering this. Anyway, enough about me . . .

Ahh, it seems that when we go from home – out and then back to home, we are changed (we have experienced leraning), though  the home has not changed.I think this is avery valuable insight. Re-reading my post at the end of the session before publishing it, I seem to notice that I have spent some time considering this during part of the session, as it seemed to stop me in my place to consider it.

MOPEM–Marketing Online Path to Enter new Markets is an EU research project. Why does there seem to be so much interesting work funded by the EU? Doesn’t the US have any interesting fundedd research? No, I am not saying this since I do not  haveany  funding, but stilL . . .

I also really need to read this paper, as a few things I missed left some gaps that I think will be valuable for me to fill.

What is being Reflected on in Online Reflection?

Jen Ross from Edinburgh is presenting her paper, Just what is being reflected in online reflection?: new literacies for new media practices. She is exploring reflection in a professional body, and forms the current work in her dissertation. She is looking at areas of identity, authenticity, and performance, especially as found through blogs. She is using blogs as that is a technology that is being used in higher education in several of the virtual learning places, as as such is becoming more HE mainstream (even though, as I pointed out, students have generally moved on to Facebook or the like).

Reflection online needs new literacies–from Carpenter 2009. She speaks how blogging takes on a new significance. She will tell 6 stories on blogging, and will look at these through 6 different blogging lenses:

  1. Authenticity–blogs should be authentic and honest
  2. Risk–Sharing too much information is dangerous
  3. Pretense–No one is really themselves online
  4. Commodification–Your online presence is your personal brand
  5. Otherness–What kind of person would do this?
  6. Narcissism–Bloggers are shallow and self-obsessed

Clear, that I need to read Jen’s work, partly as I blog quite a bit, but also because it seems there may be some similarities with this, both in research as well as in practice. We have an opportunity with online reflection to think about voice.

A Model of Shared Thinking

Nicholas Bowskill from Glasgow is presenting a paper now, Giving shareable form to collective thought using a Shared Thinking approach.

His research thesis is to explore collaborative construction of a public view of learner collective thinking from reflective dialogue to create new pedagogical and methodological possibilities. Interesting concept, which I will mark off as another paper I need to read when I have a few moments. Really interesting concept of small group inquiry, where there is a representation of the view of the whole group. This is focused around student construction and grouping, but from a group perspective.

Collaborative reflection appears to have several levels of benefits. It seems especially useful for collective experience over time, so this can be visually shared back with the students to initiate conversation as to development during a course.

The website for this is