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H800 WK25 Activity 5 Virtual Society? Technology, Cyberbole, Reality

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 Nov 2012, 21:53

To what extent do you think that all five of Woolgar’s themes are relevant to virtual worlds?

The answer is to look both ways and to do so with aplomb.

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Read Woolgar’s five themes.

1

The uptake and use of the new technologies depend crucially on local social context

 

Liff et al. (2002) demonstrated the importance of ‘third-place’ settings, separate from both home and work, as influential in engaging a wide range of local people in using the internet: museums, trains or jogging circuits. In all these places technology now enables people to learn using the resources of formal education. The idea of ‘place’ takes on a new form, as the boundaries of a multitude of sites are crossed.

2

The fears and risks, anticipations and enthusiasms associated with new technologies are unevenly socially distributed

Woolgar cites research into surveillance equipment in support of this theme. Counter to expectation, for example, surveillance technologies in the workplace were not found to be generally resisted by workers. However, acceptance was undermined by the failures of the technology to meet design specifications. This led to extra work and sometimes the technology had to be scaled back (Mason et al., 2002). There are differences between staff and students in universities, in terms of perception and usage of ICT.

3

Virtual technologies supplement rather than substitute for real activities

Electronic communication has multiplied the use of paper in offices, though we can read material online. Learners may feel less need for the printed page. Educators look to substitute electronic supports for expensive and scarce direct tutor contact.

4

The more virtual the more real

One unanticipated outcome of teleworking was that travel increased. Electronic communication increased the number of clients contacted and a face-to-face meeting was then required. Computer-mediated communication is being used, partly because it offers benefits for learning and partly because students seem less able to, or to have less time available for, travel to study centres to attend tutorials. It may be, however, that mediated communication using one tool encourages a somewhat different form using other tools. Thus learners may use forums provided by their institution, but also Facebook, Skype and Twitter.

 

5

The more global the more local

‘The very effort to escape local context, to promote one’s transcendent global (and/or virtual) identity, actually depends on specifically local ways of managing the technology’ (Woolgar, 2002, p.19). In Singapore, for example, the Singapore Institute of Management was the base for provision, and a careful fostering of mutual understandings between the two organisations was developed over at least a decade

Educational provision is typically seen as valid and trusted only if it is located within recognised local institutions and accredited by local awarding bodies – even though the technology enables all aspects of a course to be delivered electronically from the originating institution.

Having just completed the activities about Second Life, to what extent do you think that all five of Woolgar’s themes are relevant to virtual worlds?

1

The uptake and use of the new technologies depend crucially on local social context.

 

Not one bit, in this case any versioning is simply the English language (US).

2

The fears and risks, anticipations and enthusiasms associated with new technologies are unevenly socially distributed.

The context will include access to broadband, a computer, time to indulge, family attitudes to gaming, space in the home, time to indulge, other commitments (persona, family, school and/or work).

3

Virtual technologies supplement rather than substitute for real activities.

 

Substitute. It has become too easy to tap into a game that is, like the modem and some computing devices, on through all waking hours and readily accessible. A blended form of activity often occurs with participants playing together online, sometimes coming round to each other’s houses to do so.

 

4

The more virtual the more real.

On the contrary, seeking out the tricks and cheats is very much the culture of gaming. Even if you don’t have wholly real-life attributes ways are found to defy gravity, walk through walls, I’ve even see a sub-culture underneath or behind the game in which you behave/exist play and muck about ‘subway’ like behind the set, as it were.

 

5

The more global the more local.

In the context of business working at the OU Business and Law School I have first hand knowledge of how OU materials are developed for Russian partners (the 1000th MBA student celebrated this week) and are being initiated in Japan while having various other local centres globally. Though NOT in the US or France where local politics have restricted tutoring on the ground.

Select two of the five themes that you feel most strongly reflect the way in which you perceive the effects that technology is making currently in a context known to you.

Reflection

Example

4

The more virtual the more real

On the one hand there is a culture of gaming that attracts escapism and engenders a rule-breaking sub-culture of hacking with cheats a supplementary and important quest and reward. On the other webcasting and conferences whilst becoming more real, speaking and seeing each other in real-time, nonetheless afford less than real behaviours.

 

I attended a live-cast 250 miles away and did so in my PJs, not dressed for the office. When interviewed by an organisation in New York I set up an redecorated one corner of a bedroom rather than reveal that I was sitting either at the end of a bed, or at the kitchen table, or in an office the size of a walk-in cupboard and as messy as a shed-used as a dump for unwanted stuff. It is a different reality, sometimes a ‘hyper-real,’ that as we become familiar with its nuances will play to these differing attributes and so become distinct from reality … or of course, enrolled in that universe that we call ‘real’, which of course it is.

5

The more global the more local

Thinking directly of the technology, it strikes me that there is a global language: HTML. Are these codes not universal?

Watch the HSBC bank ads and see how we have two distinct types: the importance of local knowledge on the one hand, followed by the current roll-out support for their ‘Key’ which is universal. i.e. there is a duality, that is Janus-like. Aptly Janus is the god of transitions. He is depicted as having two faces on his head facing opposite directions and so look simultaneously into the future and the past, back at the last year and forward to the next. What strikes me about HSBC is that whilst globally owned and operated, it works to meet not impose local cultures; while this new ‘key’ with its diddy 1970s like plastic key-ring calculator code generator and the concept of bolts, locks and vaults, feels highly retro.

 

REFERENCE

Liff, S., Steward, F. and Watts, P. (2002) ‘New public places for internet access: networks for practice-based learning and social inclusion’ in Woolgar, S. (ed.) Virtual Society? Technology, Cyberbole, Reality, Oxford, Oxford University Press, pp.78–98.

Mason, D., Button, G., Lankshear, G. and Coates, S.(2002) ‘Getting real about surveillance and privacy at work’ in Woolgar, S. (ed.) Virtual Society? Technology, Cyberbole, Reality, Oxford, Oxford University Press, pp.137–52.

Thorpe, M. and Godwin, S. (2006) ‘Computer-mediated interaction in context’ in Markauskaite, L., Goodyear, P. and Reimann, P. (eds) ‘Who’s Learning? Whose Technology?’, Proceedings of the 23rd Annual Conference of the Australian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education, University of Sydney, Australia; also available online at http://routes.open.ac.uk/ ixbin/ hixclient.exe?_IXDB_=routes&_IXSPFX_=g&submit button=summary&%24+with+res_id+is+res20033 (last accessed 10 February 2011).

Thorpe, M. (2008) Effective online interaction: mapping course design to bridge from research to practice, Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, vol.24, no.1, pp.57–72. This article provides an in-depth case study of a well-designed sequence of conferencing and online activity and introduces a particular form of concept mapping called ‘compendium’ to demonstrate the design.

Thorpe, M. (2009) ‘Technology-mediated learning contexts’ in Edwards, R., Biesta, G. and Thorpe, M. (eds) Rethinking Contexts for Learning and Teaching: Communities, Activities and Networks, Abingdon, Routledge, pp.119–32.

Woolgar, S. (1999) ‘Analytic scepticism’ in Dutton, W.D. (ed.) Society on the Line: Information Politics in the Digital Age, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Woolgar, S. (ed.) (2002) Virtual Society? Technology, Cyberbole, Reality, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

 

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H800 WK25 Activity Systems and Second Life

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 1 Sep 2011, 14:00
I may be getting this a little or a lot wrong, but where better to share my muddled-thinking than here?

Subject = you or the person you may be obeserving in the virtual world.

Object = I take to be the objective, that which is the object of the activiity (the game)

Rules = that govern the world and the functionality of the game (breaking the rules and finding our using cheats is a game plan with these often built in as an additional layer to the game/ world)

Instruments = I take to be both external (the game console, hesdset and screen for example) as well as instruements internal to the games, as in weapons, magic wands, pots of treasure and so on).

The Community are all players, there being hundreds of thousands online, though a set group in your version of the world, some with whom you may interect, others you may not). It may include others around you in the room whi are znky playing the game, i.e. A father questioning his son and an American teaching eachother swear words sad

Division of labour-who does what. There is generally a naatural leader, I've observed my son in groups of up to five, but typically two or three, working as a pack, more than a team or platoon in a very structured way.

This is my take on it having had to read Engestrom's book From Teams to Knots in which a variety of case studies, including a hospitlal and its relationship with GP surgeries is developed.

I cite and use activity systems all the time, whether to cnsider the relationship between two people developing ideas towgether (like us here Joanne) or between departments, as I did during a daylong away day with the OU Faculty if Business and Law, which I did today.

For me it lets me think beyound a person, or the physical presnce or make up of a group, to understand and to take into consideration influences upon snd eminating from them.

I know Conole has her pyramid thing, and I prefer 'spheres of influence' as a visualised concept, as this models are simply an expression of the complexity of what may be going on and can never take in the true variety of impacts and influences upon and from an individual or group.

My take on it! I may have not got it at all. The person I'd like to quiz is Engestrom himself (he has been known to visit The OU I am told).

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H800 WK12 Activity 5 Technology

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 17:06

Identify a form of technology used in an educational context.

Mobile

What do you think is the likely impact of this technology on the students’ perceptions of the quality of their modules, their approaches to studying and their academic performance?

The OU has seen in the last quarter a 13% rise in the use of mobile devices (smartphones and tablets). I think this is some 3,500 OU students now accessing the OU VLE in a mobile form. This has come about as a process of responding to students' requests ... some had been tinkering with code to get it on the mobile devices and the OU response has been to configure the new version of the VLE on a new version of Moodle to accommodate this. By responding to the wishes of the students the OU will be perceived as progressive and responsive, appreciating the wishes, circumstances and opportunities that these devices provide a group of people. The immediate request was for alerts of assessment scores and to receive these to mobile devices. With EVERY module now offered in a mobile format you can check off activities as they are completed and keep this track record of what you are getting through in your pocket.

It plays into the hands of the 'innovators', those who are early adopters ... at the expense of the 'laggards?' We've seen the death of the Academic Journal in favour of the e-Journal, and we're seeing modules delivered entirely online ... which kisses good buy to books and folders of paper too. This is the new paper.

No technology results in a clean slate, nor should it. The needs, wishes, desires, hopes and expectations of students have to be met. The next struggle will be for tutor or tutor-like time. We demand so much in this instant world and can often nail the precise person to whom we put questions.

What do you think is the likely impact of this technology on the teachers’ perceptions of their teaching context and their approaches to teaching?

Those in distance learning are already conscious that they are developing a quality product that will be used by hundreds, perhaps thousands of students at a time. They are, like the anonymous authors they are, just pleased that more people can get their fingers onto the content that has been created for them. From a tutor or associate lecturer's point of view, already hamstrung by time constraints, they may feel students have the means to contact them 24/7 from these devices and expect feedback as quickly.

Do you think this technology embodies particular assumptions about the nature of teaching and learning in higher education?

That is it is becoming more student-centred and individualised?

The people can be anywhere and study at any time in a formal manner guided by their course content that is expressed in the same way whether on a mobile device or on their desktop. There's an assumption that enough people have these devices. The OUs policy is to be platform agnostic, all devices can receive or need to be able to receive these data feeds. At the same time, those who do not have or use or want to use mobile devices in this way should never feel left out, in other words you cannot abandon one platform or approach in favour of another when students want to learn or can only learn in such a variety of ways ... except that a box of books and DVDs is understandably dropping out of favour.

Are these assumptions likely to promote more positive perceptions, more desirable approaches to studying and better performance on the part of the students?

On the basis that we all must 'borrow time' from somewhere else to study at all, do mobile devices simply mean that people will try to walk the dog ... and study, go to the football match and do some course work? Travel and work (back of car, on a train or bus, yes), but in micro-moments at other times of the day? I wonder. Though have to confess that I find I concentrate best when on a headland looking out to sea ... tablet in hand? I'm yet to have one of these devices but wonder if it will allow or encourage me to keep topics at the front of my mind, as I could and perhaps would steal moments while a kettle boils, or I eat a sandwich to read and respond to a Forum Thread?

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H800 WK 1 Activty 5 Part 1

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 26 Feb 2012, 05:53

NOTES INTERVIEW WITH GREGOR KENNEDY

The idea of the Digital Natives piqued Dr Gregor Kennedy’s interest as did the alarmist talk, particularly from North America that radical change in teaching would be required because a generation of Internet savvy students were entering tertiary education on mass.

Dr Kennedy, with a background in psychology, was particularly interested because he doubted the claims made by Prensky regarding neuroplasticity.

What Kennedy wished to establish was what are students’ experiences with technology and what therefore would be the best course of action for institutions as it is they, not the student who would have to make the decisions about the technology being used.

What is more, if these students were ‘Digital Natives’ then the staff would be ‘Digital Immigrants,’ so by including them in the survey Kennedy could consider both facets of the claim.

It was revealed that staff were more familiar and advanced with the practical tools, though a minority of students (15%) had more experience with Web 2.0 tools than some staff. i.e. there is a mixed and complex picture.

Kennedy and his eight person team took a measured and evidence-based approach.

This research debunked the idea of the Digital Immigrant as well as the Digital Native. It wasn’t surprising to find that academic staff were more adept in their information literacy skills than student, in this population at least the digital divide was in fact in the opposite direction to that promoted by Prensky.

Importantly there was ‘a raft of core technologies where students and staff show similar profiles’. i.e. there is no sweeping generational divide between groups at all or any suggestion that the way teaching and learning is carried out in higher education should undergo some radical change to accommodate these students.

The reality is that students come in with a rather simplistic reliance on just two or three limited tools, such as Google and Wikipedia.

Just because they are using widely available and hugely popular tools, in 2006 MySpace, though by now surely Facebook. What is more there is great diversity in students’ familiarity with blogging, podcasting and wikis, using the web for general information, instant messaging and mobiles.

There are cultural differences in the way different groups in the community are using technologies. In one papers a student asked “what is a blog?” Some students were just unaware of some of these technologies – which greatly surprised the researches, while in other cases some students were more familiar and adept at Web 2.0 tools that university staff.

Access to and familiarity with Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 tools is complex; nothing suggested a single cohort could be identified, certainly not one based on date of birth.

‘If you’re going to use these kinds of technologies, you need to be mindful of the diversity of the student groups that you’re using them with’.

The Three universities studied:

Around 2,000 student surveys.

1. Melbourne, traditional, founded around 1850. 2. Wollongong in the 1970s with broader teaching and learning and often the first time someone from a family has attended university. 3. Charles Sturt University a newer university.

The thing that’s important is that we’re going in to try and find evidence to support a construct that has been talked about in our community.

 

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