Week One: eLearning, Web 2.0, and such (Freewrite)

Let me start by saying I found the Stephen Downs article interesting and am glad to see many of the concepts he spoke about reflected in our #SOOC13. I did, however, diagree with the author in certain places. He says of Digital Natives (defined as people born after 1980)

“They absorb information quickly, in images and video as well as text, from multiple sources simultaneously. They operate at “twitch speed,” expecting instant responses and feedback. They prefer random “on-demand” access to media, expect to be in constant communication with their friends (who may be next door or around the world), and they are as likely to create their own media (or download someone else’s) as to purchase a book or a CD.”

 I find it very hard to make such generalizations about a group based on the sole criteria of the year they were born. Of course, it is true that one had to chose a cut off date for the group of people who don’t remember the time before the internet, 1980 is probably a good place to start. This technically makes me a digital native. That being said, personally I know many more people who use internet resources more effectively than I do and are older than I am. There are many reasons why some people are more sophisticated in their online behavior than others. I would be interested in seeing hard evidence for the above claims.

“Sharing content is not considered unethical; indeed, the hoarding of content is viewed as antisocial.”  I absolutely agree! There is a great TED Talk by Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls called “The Art of Asking,” in which she makes the suggestion that if we learn how to ask for things, in her case money for music, people will be surprisingly cooperative. Of course, some won’t, but I really think it comes down to the type of community one creates.

 Further along in the assigned reading Stephen Downs writes, “It’s about enabling and encouraging participation through open applications and services.” I think that is essential and hopefully something we will experience in our little social experiment.

 Another essential observation made in the this text is: “Students’ blog posts are often about something from their own range of interests, rather than on a course topic or assigned project.” I think the decision made by the administrators of this course for a couple of präsenz-sitzungen was very important. For me it really helped solidify the concepts and expectations behind the course. Meaning, I’m glad that a connection was provided between the “real” world and the virtual classroom.

The only thing I find disappointing about social media or web 2.0 in general, and probably the reason I don’t read the comments section on news articles, is that people tend to be very critical of one another even to the point of being nasty. Studies have shown this to be a pervasive trend among commenteers (nytimes “The Nasty Effect”). Hopefully, there won’t be too much of that.

Here’s to learning something new!

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2 thoughts on “Week One: eLearning, Web 2.0, and such (Freewrite)

  1. Thanks for the comment on Stephen Downes! I really enjoyed reading it 🙂
    (I also like your blog style (thumb up)!)

    I’d like to add a further idea on the term ‘digital natives’. We’ve already talked a lot about it, and I totally agree, that generalizations should not be the result of this categorization. While reading your text, I had to think of the term ‘native speaker’. On the one hand it describes a group of people who grew up speaking a certain language. Which means they get things referring their language much easier than others (such as jokes, irony etc.). On the other hand – thinking, for instance, of American English as native language – we wouldn’t claim that every native american speaker has the same amount of abilities referring to the language. Instead we have a dispers group of many different backgrounds, cognitive abilities or styles. While some may be barely able to speak a whole proper sentence, some are poets. And they all have something in common: Although they may not have the same amount of competences, they may have an easier understanding of language things in general. I assume the same can be conferred to digital natives and digital things.

    To come to a conclusion: Maybe we should not abolish the term but our limited expectations and conclusions referring this term? Means, as you already mentioned, there’s more about ‘digital natives’, than their age, we just have to add it to our understanding of them.

    • Thanks for your comment! (It’s my first ever – how exciting!!)
      In response: Marc Warschauer (Technology and Social Inclusion: Rethinking the Digital Divide, 2004) compared different levels of sophistication with regard to interaction with Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to literacy skills. And consequently, one might be able to see, as you suggest, differences in digital proficiencies in terms of language. As you mentioned some native speakers can merely string togehter sentences and others write beautiful moving poetry. However, I’m not sure the term has anything to offer us if we can say, some digital natives speak the language of ICTs better than others, and some people who learned the langauge in their 20s and 30s can speak it just as well as native speakers.

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