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Notes on reading Vance’s article “Modeling Social Media in Groups, Communities, and Networks”

January 16, 2010

This article can be found at http://www.tesl-ej.org/wordpress/past-issues/volume13/ej51/ej51int/

Vance begins his article on modeling social media with three examples of how the world has changed (paradigm shift): how we look for information differently and have different expectations of it; how for more and more people, open-source is the way to go; and his love-hate relationship with his Kindle. Continuing, he observes that Stephen Downes’ assertion that teaching and learning require modeling/demonstrating and practicing/reflecting respectively. (I wonder: what exactly is the difference between modeling and demonstrating? Taking blogging as an example, I suppose a teacher who blogs herself is modeling blogging, while a teacher who simply shows her class how to blog by creating a blog and posting to it as they watch is demonstrating.)

Vance goes on to relate an anecdote about a chat on Edmodo, which I realize I have never used (or even heard of). So many tools, so little time….

I felt pleased when I read the story of how the webheads tried out Google Wave, as I was one of those who listed my name on the wiki created by Seth Dickens (although I did not realize at the time that it was Seth who had created the wiki; it seemed to spring whole out of thin air, as webhead creations sometimes do), received an invitation from a fellow webhead, and shared 19 of my 20 invitations to people who had signed up on that wiki. (The appeal of Google Wave has lessened somewhat since those heady first days, as we wait for Google to make it faster and better.)

Vance lists 10 aspects of paradigm shift or current trends: pedagogy (teaching–>learning), networking (isolation–>connectivism), literacy (print–>digital), heuristics (client/server–>peer-to-peer), formality (power-centric–>exploration/discovery/F.U.N.), transfer (lecturer–>model), directionality (push–>pull [with tags and RSS]), ownership (proprietary–>open-source), sharing (copyright–>Creative Commons), and classification (taxonomic–>folksonomic).

Vance relates how the webheads group of educators became a Community of Practice when they began to relate to one another on a more personal level, help each other and define their culture “through a set of mutual understandings”. An example would be the webheads’ beliefs that we can and should help and encourage one another; that we can mix fun with work; and that before we try something new out with a class, it’s probably better to try it out first with another webhead! Then he describes how the webheads CoP joined the Worldbridges (and LearningTimes and TappedIn and…) CoPs to form a “distributed learning network.”

Vance touches on the problem of recidivism, in which exposure to new methodologies/technologies does not prevent teachers from reverting to more familiar, old-fashioned ones. (I think: we often teach the way we were taught, or the way we learned.)

I made the happy discovery that although I have still not created a ProtoPage or PageFlakes, all is not lost: my iGoogle page is an aggregator too (and I just added my GoogleReader feeds to it!).

Excellent article, Vance!

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