Hi there tout la gang,

We don't have much to say about research in practice at the Café right now

but we are talking policy and practice over here now: Literacy Enquirers.

Friday, January 9, 2009

habits and habitats

I have been evaluating some of the ways I participate in the online world and what it means for my learning process and how it helps me reflect upon what I learn and make meaning. I reread a couple of articles and thought I would share them with you here.

Here is what Etienne Wenger says about why it is important to be connected:

We are essentially social beings. We live in societies, of course; but more fundamentally perhaps, it is our participation in social communities and cultural practices that provides the very materials out of which we construct who we are, give meaning to what we do, and understand what we know.

As valuable as information is, information by itself is meaningless—as are the sounds of an unknown foreign language. Information only takes meaning in the context of the social practices of the communities that give it cultural life. It is therefore through our membership in these communities that we come to know—and to be empowered by what we know.

In fact, isolation as a principle is either illusory or paralyzing —except perhaps when it is part and parcel of the practice of communities that give it a social meaning, as in monastic seclusion or in the process of writing. Our very identity of individuality is a matter of belonging.
Etienne Wenger,
“Communities of practice: where learning happens”,
Benchmark Magazine, Fall Issue 1991
Downloaded from www.ewenger.com/pub/index.htm
(click on papers and scroll to the bottom of the list)

And here is what Stephen Downes says about how to stay connected:

1. Be Reactive
...The first thing any connected person should be is receptive. Whether on a discussion forum, mailing list, or in a blogging community or gaming site, it is important to spend some time listening and getting the lay of the land. ...

2. Go With The Flow
...When connecting online, it is more important to find the places to which you can add value rather than pursue a particular goal or objective. The Web is a fast-changing medium, and you need to adapt to fit the needs of the moment, rather than to be driving it forward along a specific agenda. ...

3. Connection Comes First
...If you don't have enough time for reading email, writing blog posts, or posting to discussion lists, ask yourself what other activities you are doing that are cutting in to your time. These are the things that are often less efficient uses of your time. ...

4. Share
...When you share, people are more willing to share with you. In a networked world, this gives you access to more than you could ever produce or buy by yourself. By sharing, you increase your own capacity, which increases your marketability. ...

...RTFM stands for "Read The Fine Manual" (or some variant thereof) and is one of the primary rules of conduct on the Internet. What it means, basically, is that people should make the effort to learn for themselves before seeking instruction from others. ...

6. Cooperate
...Offline people collaborate. They join teams, share goals, and work together. Everybody works in the same place, they use the same tools, and have the same underlying vision of the project or organization.

Online, people cooperate. They network. Each has his or her own goals and objectives, but what joins the whole is a web of protocols and communications. People contribute their own parts, created (as they say in open source programming) to "satisfy their own itch." ...

7. Be Yourself
...What makes online communication work is the realization that, at the other end of that lifeless terminal, is a living and breathing human being. ...

“Seven Habits of Highly Connected People”,
eLearn Magazine, April 18, 2008
Available at www.downes.ca/post/44261

And on the topic of being connected and making meaning ...
Update: I wrote about enjoysthin.gs on Monday. Since then Ted Roden, who created the site and is nurturing this community, made a tutorial video. It is such an easy peasey way to share online it might work nicely for a group of students or co-workers as a way of starting discussions or cheering each other up on those days when we need cheering up.

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