Oil-dipping your culture in 60 seconds

Most teachers use technology — they have to, email, marking sheets, accessing resources is part and parcel of the job. So arguably, there is no such thing in societies affluent enough to have computers as non-digital teacher, more degrees of motivation toward the constellation of variables that people offer up to exemplify new media literacy.

To determine the cultural preferences of teachers and their working environment, we might simply ask a question.

Which of these  do you use most often in communication with others for professional learning?

  1. name@domain.com
  2. attn of:
  3. @name

Perhaps ask this in the next staff development day – take a cross-sectional view of your school culture – know your culture in 60 seconds. It’s a 1 page slideshow that can start a year long discussion – if you’re approaching change from a concern based strategy.

Henry Jenkins, in a recent interview said

We don’t tie the literacies to specific technologies. We’re saying that these are sets of skills that cut across technologies. Technologies are constantly going to change. But there are certain cultural practices that have started to emerge that help us to navigate though those new technologies, and to engage more fully in participatory cultures. And that’s the essence by what we mean by new media literacies.

One gripe I have with the Web2.0 crowd – is that they tie new media literacy diversively to browser based toolsets – blogs, wikis, twitter etc., In many ways this behavior parallels that of teachers who will have answered the question above with option 1 or 2. The cultures we subscribe to tend to speak from inside a belief – so if you selected option 3, chances are you are speaking from inside a culture that subscribes to blogs, wikis and twitter – and that those choosing option 1 or 2 will be seen as targets – beyond your current bubble to influence.

The best answer of course is all of them. To, as Jenkin’s says “cut accross”. But then they will whine and say “there was no option 4; it said ‘most often” – and that’s because they are not thinking critically enough about the question – looking for gaps to exploit – to ask a better question. And that is an epic cultural problem.

As Jenkins points out, new literacies are not limited to blogs and wikis. Essentially – those espousing  web2.0 culture in various guises, focus their discussion around ‘school, teacher and student motivation’ – arguing that schools often want to reduce digital literacy to the most fundamental level that is just using the device — and that ruins everything, for ever, for everyone – amen.

To me, those interested in what lies beyond Web2.0 – games, virtual worlds, mobiles, point of view cameras, semantic search etc., see browser based tools also the most fundamental level of media literacy – and provide an inadequate depiction of technologies we could, or should be exploring and actively creating opportunities for teachers to encounter.

But I get it, I really do. Web2.0 culture is seeking to increase market share – to attract new listeners to a particular message. They extend it marginally on what they have been talking about in order to increase their share. They are not as interested in creating bigger markets for everyone, so you don’t see them keynoting about things outside their bubble – and we all live in bubbles – the mentalists choose to pop them, just to see what happens.

So before we get too carried away with the new school year and start banging on to new teachers that Web2.0 is the new cheese – consider your own bubble … are you content to float around with everyone else, or do you want to get into something new, to speak from inside something that you’re currently looking towards … after all – that’s exactly what those often singled out as ‘not being savvy’ are accused of – be it oh so subtly.

* pop *

That feels much better … now I’ve got room to explore the next chapter – what motivates game cultures … and I’m pretty sure it’s not blogging.

2 thoughts on “Oil-dipping your culture in 60 seconds

  1. It is indeed wise counsel to those of us who participate in networked learning to not get all superior on our colleagues who aren’t hooked on social media. We had new teachers to our school today goggle-eyed at the prospect of having up to 30 emails lobbing daily as part of our communication process for disseminating information in preference to weekly administrivia meetings – so rolling eyes at them for not having a Google-able digital footprint is kinda pointless.
    And I act just like them when it comes to moving onto more challenging initiatives that you often suggest in the world of gaming or online worlds. Oh sure, I have a lifeless avatar hanging around Jokaydia somewhere, but I keep inventing reasons not to sign up for Bronwyn Stuckey’s QA training. I use the same reasons the newbies at my school use – if I can’t easily make the link to what I have to teach the kids, then why should I invest the time or take the risk?
    Lately, I’ve been finding it hard to even do the blogging thing – and I like writing.
    I get the engagement that games have for kids – my own two boys will play stuff that bores me stupid within five minutes. I’ve tried to get interested in some more mature games but think I’ll be taking my copy of Modern Warfare back to EB Games for a trade in soon.
    So I suppose I get the point that our own biases can enhance or restrict what options we offer our students. How to effectively foster learning in engaging forums without having to be expert but willing to learn alongside and from your own students is pretty important – but it’ll be hard to find a place for that in the new Australian Curriculum standards.

    • I hear that Graham – but there are layers here. I’m a little fish, but some of those who command influence of large groups of people – those people have far greater opportunity to push on with messages that they have hardly changed in three or four years. There’s also very little research into what motivates, and just how a teacher becomes a teacher-educator, and virtual nothing on teacher-education (technology) – so in many ways we don’t understand our own motivations – other that the fact we favour a constructionist paradigm in which to learn and teach students and each other. So there’s a local RL datum point – dealing with real people, with real concerns and the meta datum point – what we are saying and doing in what is an endless, global auditorium.

      There is a massive difference in my mind between people who are doing both, and some of those for whom social networks are little more than spaces to ‘sell’ their brand – and often are still eating a meal off things long past their sell by date. A good test is to reply to one of their verbose tweets – echo – what’s the Aussie phrase ‘gunnas’ and ‘do-ers’. Me, I’m not selling anything – so to me, this blog is just about blurting out things I notice/think, I then go and see if I can do something about it.

      I reckon – we’re both on the same blog page – and I don’t play FPS shooters, maybe I should, and my avatar on Jokaydia is probably in the bar with yours!

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