One of the exciting developments I have seen happening as a result of the growth of participatory cultures in the corporate learning space is higher problem-solving. At my previous workplace—a telecommunication manufacturing company—the Customer Support team launched a community forum a year ago. Customers with specific issues (that could not be replicated in the company’s test environment) would post the question on the community forum so that other customers or the tech support team in the company could respond. It was interesting to see other customers offer solutions based on their experiences. Of course, since it is an informal setting, the company had to be very careful in monitoring the posts (or you would have entire computer networks down!), but based on an individual’s right solutions, he would be “promoted” to expert status—giving his solutions more credibility.
While promoting participatory culture has its advantages, I can see why we need to confront the challenges it poses as well. That’s why I am glad that the authors of the “Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century” are against the laissez faire approach to acquiring media literacy skills. Shrier’s experience quoted in this article that students assumed the information represented in the game is sadly not an exception. I fully agree with the authors that teaching students media literacy skills is important if students are to benefit from this new shift in culture. Also, if we can keep textbooks free of advertising, I think it’s possible to do the same for websites geared toward student learning.
Sadly, participatory cultures make children vulnerable to more scrutiny—the flip side of having what you produce available to the rest of the world to critique.
Yet, another challenge of this shift is pointed out to us by the authors of the Social Media
for Learning by Means of ICT. Social media tend to encourage students in building their social networking and interactions—at the cost of real learning happening. In this article– http://www.zdnet.com/blog/igeneration/the-pros-and-cons-of-social-media-classrooms/15132,
the author underlines the fact that unless social media sites are being used with a specific learning objective in mind, they end up being a distraction and a waste of time. That’s why I think a certain level of policing is not a bad idea.
Teaching, Learning, and Sharing: How Today’s Higher Education Faculty Use Social Media
Out of the tidbits to read for this week, the 18 web 2.0 Tools for Instruction caught my eye the most. After spending a little bit of time on the tools listed here, I feel like some of these tools are still in their infancy. Mag.ma, for example, just kept hanging. On the other hand, I found Del.icio.us a good way to collect, save, and share your repository of good resources. I might use it if I were an instructor some day. Gotta say that I really love that most of these apps are free.
I ended this week’s reading on a tad sad note because I chose to peruse “Is true friendship dying away?” I do sense that our “friendships” are getting shallower with the onslaught of social media. After all, how many of my FB friends and Twitter followers could I depend on if I were in a pickle—not forgetting the fact that a majority of them live far away. And, how many of these people would call me to be their shoulder to cry on?
The author ends his article with his observation that we learn to make friends in our childhood. So, does that bode well for the current generation of kids whose understanding of friendship is altered because of social networking? Only time will tell.