WE CONSTANTLY seem to hear about ‘leaks’ and ‘errors’ when personal information appears online – and powerless to retract, control or predict it’s impact.
The ‘culture of participation’ is not an opt-in experience as there is no opt-out. We are tagged, poked, @’ted, linked, referenced and befriended to the point where the representation of ourselves is fractured, atomized and abstract. We don’t even need to decide to put a footprint down – by making a blog, often – as my Director pointed out today – the employer lists an enormous amount of information online for you.
Do we really need to put students into this environment?
We are as liberal with information today as hippies were with flowers in the sixties – we love to freely express our experiences, creations and opinions with often little regard for ourselves or others – we justify this as being ‘virtual’ – when in fact nothing is virtual – it is connected to us all the time – even when we move on.
We create virtual worlds and avatars into which we project ourselves. Those busy stomping their foot prints in the digital landscape often place virtual worlds such as Second Life or Quest Atlantis as marginal learning spaces – where games, fantasy and user generated content is immature or facile. I beg to differ. Having an avatar in a virtual world is an excellent idea for students and teachers – your avatar is you. You own it in safe fail environment, where you control the IP, where you decide what happens, where you decide who to talk to, who to work with and what you then leave behind. This, to me is a lot safer and sustainable than blogging.
Its not about ‘publishing’, its about ‘learning’ – and social media is not an idyllic environment – though a virtual one can be. I can only wish I was going to GLS5.0 - as some of the ideas and work there is not only inspirational, but also some of the most meta-cognitive, most enquiry driven, most motivating and Safe Fail places to learn for students – not just K12 – but TAFE and Higher Education.
I am not saying avoid online media and collaboration – just that places like Skoolaborate, Ramapo Islands, Edmodo, Moodle, Elgg etc., seem to me to be a lot safer than the real one right now – especially when schools start pushing hundreds of kids ‘online’. Joining a virtual world project and using that – still seems to me to a very wise move – and in terms of motivation – ask them what they’d rather do.
Image : Don Hosho