Intro to Networked Collaboration

Networked collaboration in education

As an educator (as well as a student in this class), I agree very much to the excitement about the use of blogs and wikis in classroom and project settings like they were described in last week’s readings: Educators Flock To Blogging, “Wiki becomes textbook in Boston College classroom” and so on.

I have some annotation though, or want to add some personal experience:

I used a blog in highschool art classes (grades 9-12) in Austria, in some non-institutional art projects with girls as well as women, and I always tried to use it as an additional (to classroom or projectroom) discussion, communication, documentation, shared network space … tool. Although usually many were curious about new technology in the beginning, it would later be used only by a few kids or adults in such a way that they could profit from it: share their ideas, exhibit and show their photo/video/art work to a public, hand in assignments and make them visible to the class, coment etc.

The majority of ‘kids’ and young adults usually dismissed or tried to ‘ignore’ the project as much as they could: out of fear to make their thoughts/essays public (to a class or even bigger audience); only having restricted internet or computer access (which included limited school library hours); having harder ‘software learning times’ that we might think; or being biased towards technology in general (although most of them liked working with video and digital photography). Teaching art in a NYC highschool some years ago, I just remember the same, or even worse problems, trying to get equipment to experiment with new technology at least in the classroom, let alone to ask for technical resources for the kids.

We know that the main interest of youth in social media is ‘Identity formation and role-seeking’  (Danah Boyd “Incantations for Muggles” essay) – most of them like using the internet for fun stuff – but not for work stuff (that was somehow my experience). Still, I was and am disappointed about how social networks did NOT form so well in those contexts.

Some critique on myself and ideas for next projects already include: putting the creation and ‘feeding’ of a blog even more into the center of a class or course or project. Making even more time and extra space (and try to provide extra equipment, uff) for media networking. And hope that more and more people of all social backgrounds will have serious internet and computer access at least through their schools in the near future (The One Laptop Per Child initiative would probably not only make sense in developing countries: http://laptop.org/)

Just wanted to share my experience and see if there’s some more ideas or experiences out there …

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November 2, 2008 - Posted by | education

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