Archive for October, 2008

Still hanging on in there…

October 4, 2008
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I’ve had little time this week to keep up to date with the detail of CCK08, so the Daily has been essential in highlighting some key discussions and it provides me with plenty of food for thought. Here is a summary of the themes that have stood out for me…

George commented on how different places within the course are now looking very different in style and content due to the presence (or preferably absence, in my opinion) of “trolls” – a great term which is described by Wikipedia as “a person who is deliberately inflammatory on the Internet in order to provoke a vehement response from other users”.

He notes that discussion lists are particularly vulnerable to trolls because of their visibility to the group as a whole, whereas the author of a blog has more control over content and a more limited range of readers. This means that course participants dipping into a few different blog contributions will get a very different mental picture of what it is all about than those who are exposed to the vitriolic machinations of a few over-exposed trolls on the discussion board. On the positive side, though, the discussion board can also highlight great threads such as this one for a wide audience.

On a different issue, Jason Green posted an interesting comment about how online discussions could help to break down the traditional boundaries between students and tutors which he summarised as “Teachers who try to join the informal network are seen as usurping student space, while learners who try to insert themselves in the formal network are seen as ‘usurping teacher authority’ (if it’s done without the teachers consent).” Comparing student behaviour in the classroom and in online discussions is something that I will be experimenting with in my own classes this term.

I’m continuing to find useful tools that people on CCK08 have recommended. The most recent is Clustrmaps which shows where a blog’s readers originate from on a map of the world.

Finally, an observation on lurking. At an early stage of the course it was stated that a much higher percentage of people would merely extract information from others than would provide observations or resources of their own to the group. Perhaps a way to redress this is to emphasise the benefit that sharing can bring to the ‘sharer’ as well as to the ‘sharee’. As Andy McKiel notes:

“I discovered I learned differently when I shared and tried to articulate what I thought were important elements in an article or blog post. Sharing isn’t just about helping others. It’s also about helping ourselves to understand a concept in a more complete manner.”

I’m buzzing with ideas and on a roll for next week now….

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