Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Preparing for Mass Collaboration

Students collaborate willingly on a daily basis. They are on line more outside school hours, than they are in school. They collaborate on Facebook, My Space, mail, HI Five, You Tube, MSN, Skype, Genie, World of Warcraft, and Counterstrike. Their social interactions – hopefully positive in nature set much of the groundwork for collaboration with the easy to and fro with their ‘friends’.

“In the economy of things you are identified by want you own – your
Land, house,car. In the economy of ideas that the web is creating,
you are what you share – who you are linked to, who you network
with, and which ideas, pictures, video, links or comments you share.
The biggest change the web will bring about is allowing us to share
with one another in new ways and particularly to share ideas. That matters because the more ideas are shared the more they breed,
mutate and multiply, and that process is ultimately the source of our creativity, innovation and well-being.”
(We Think Leabeater. Charles P. 6)

Students need to be taught that collaborative communities do have creators and leaders, but the format is not the same as they may have traditionally been aware of. As collaborators they need to be taught to create and answer interesting conversations, and be open to adaptation. Basically good people skills translated into an elearning situation. These develop over time and creations such as Web Quests can be very effective steps in that direction by directing learning with multimedia - combining individual and collaborative efforts and shared ownership. People create for many reasons – grades, recognitions, altruism – but whatever the motivation mass collaboration can bring changes we have yet to imagine.


The power of the web lies in its exponential growth in terms of access, knowledge, ease of use, and our growing reliance on it . It has power to transform lives in positive and negative ways. It is far more powerful than the radio, or the television ever was in their time as leading communication models.

The web connects for social and business reasons. Information sharing beyond anything imagined by most users. Barriers of knowledge and information are crumbling. It impacts learning of all – and connects learners not in the same room, nor country. A collective learning model is emerging. It allows innovation and mass production. It draws people into political issues, and influences presidential elections. If we don’t like the world we live in, we can join or create a virtual world.

In the classroom it allows us to communicate with other classrooms sturying similar topis, to take virtual tours
The impact on our daily lives continues to grow and at times the ability to totally disconnect takes a monumental effort. That living in the moment with the people or place you are physically with is threatened many times by our electronic world. It has the potential to be an invasion in our lives. Will the web allow us to be more in control of our lives… or less?

It seems there will be nothing the web cannot reach and so we must be discerning.

ON LINE SAFETY? You? Me? Whose responsibility?

If it takes an entire village to raise a child when you are physically with them, so where does it begin and end in a virtual world?

If it is shared technology, it is shared responsibility by all– always. Shared by parents who purchase the technology for their children, shared by schools who supply the technology, and shared by the people who use the technology. It is constant and current. Acceptable Use Policies(AUP)outline clearly what is acceptable behaviour across the board, and from that safety can be addressed.

What to post – and what not to post on line.? NetSafe – a New Zealand organization outlines many common safety broaches committed by teenagers such as home addresses, posting sensitive pictures, negative comments, first and last names next to e mail addresses and identifying photographs. It also teaches how to adjust settings for optimum privacy on social networking pages such as Facebook.

All users need to be aware of the life of anything sent, or posted on the internet. It needs to be taught explicitly and embedded in practice. In parenting – consequences for the inappropriate use that will almost certainly happen, need to be in place.

Currently a cyber bullying case at a school in Sydney has made headlines for the way information was removed from networking sites and manipulated into defamatory information.

“Several teenagers at an elite Sydney girls school are coming to terms with the full magnitude of their public betrayal via the internet. Where to begin? One has had her genitalia discussed in anatomical detail. Another has had her face likened to a koala's. A third has learnt that her circle of friends is not friendly at all: "She thinks she's best friends with lots of people but they actually hate her."
Two year 9 girls at Ascham, who thought they could casually destroy or trash the reputations of other girls in order to advance their own social standing, have left the school in disgrace. So at least some natural justice has been handed out. Thirty-one Ascham girls have been named and dissected in a posting on the social networking site MySpace… “

Ascham Fallout – Sydney Morning Herald. May 2, 2009

Sadly most people do not learn lessons until it directly impacts them even when (ironically) Ascham was one of the first schools in Australia to be involved in responsible internet behaviour.