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Comment on “Many Lenses”

January 29, 2010

Here, at last, is my comment on “Many Lenses”:

Let me start with a doubt. When talking about the Scottish student???s textspeak essay, M. Pegrum states that many people who aren???t digital natives would struggle with it. I wonder if all digital natives within the English speaking world would be able to understand it straightaway. I feel that, as textspeak is a new, informal linguistic form of expression, some of its ???unconventional conventions??? might not be immediately understood outside the members of a given group and would require some negotiation of meaning.

Having said that, and considering the textspeak piece from a technological point of view, it is clear that the use of abbreviations, shortened forms and initialisms emerge as a consequence of the need to save time and money when text messaging. However, when confronting it at a pedagogical level, I agree that here the main consideration is connected with appropriacy to the context. In this case, appropriacy would have to be considered not only in terms of register, but also of linguistic form. I very much doubt that the job candidate who answered that call for an interview in textspeak finally obtained the position.

The above leads us to consider the piece from a social point of view ??? teenagers??? need to question and rebel against fixed standards to construct and ascertain their own identity ??? but also from a sociopolitical one. M. Pegrum observes that the lack of appropriacy in the use of textspeak could well reflect the socioeconomic status of the writers, the digital divide being marked not by access to or exclusion from technology but by appropriacy of use. Likewise, having the capacity of relaxing from the demands of technology on the mind and body, is also beginning to be seen as a status marker. This shows there is yet another level at which the issue could be considered, the ecological one, which deals precisely with the health of the individual and the biosphere.

In this way, M Pegrum invites us to look at the interrelations of technologies and education through these five lenses. In his review of Pegrum???s book, Jim Buckingham provides a clear summary of what each of these lenses focuses on: I would like to add a few reflections on each of them.

The technological lens
Whether we like it or not, ICTs are here to stay and, what???s more, in constant evolution, with constant advances in speed and flexibility. We need to come to terms with them and find the way to put them to good use. ???It???s essential, argued Gary Motteram and Sophie Ioannou-Georgiou in their plenary, that we remember the three Ps of e-learning: pedagogy, pedagogy and pedagogy??? ??? Pegrum – p 5

The pedagogical lens
The interactive, collaborative, user-centered nature of Web 2.0 lends itself to the constructivist approach to learning. This implies a shift in the way knowledge and information are created and distributed, thus creating conflicts with established institutions and standards. The challenge for educators in how to surmount them.

The social lens
This new ???online lifestyle??? entails both advantages and disadvantages. The threats to privacy, mainly when young people are concerned, are perhaps the most serious among the latter, and have received wide media attention. On the other hand, technology is enabling people to establish an identity, to express themselves for a real audience, to develop a sense of belonging through socializing and networking and to become aware of intercultural differences. It is our role ???to offer some careful guidance and some measured warnings??? ??? M. Pegrum ??? p 7

The sociopolitical lens
The focus is on how technology is changing the sociopolitical scene, serving as a vehicle for political and terrorist discourse alike, revealing the cracks in our societies??? structures and interrelations and, even more disturbing, making us wonder which voices we can???t hear because of the technological divide or because governments smother them.

The ecological lens
Some disturbing questions arise here: what is technology doing to our minds and bodies, and to our already devastated planet?

When teaching about and through digital technologies, educators have the responsibility of taking into consideration the implications disclosed by these lenses.


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  1. Nina Liakos permalink

    There are many creative solutions out there if we will only invest in them rather than pretend that oil and natural gas are going to somehow last forever. personally I like the example of the commune in Colombia (I can’t recall the name!) where, among other innovations, they invented a water pump that is powered by children playing in a playground.

  2. Maria Rosario Di M??naco permalink

    You’re so right, Nina! It’s terrible to see how the ecological balance is collapsing all around us. And the Climate Change Conference didn’t reach any significant compromise IMHO. Is everything lost? Perhaps the web revolution, which is empowering ordinary people to have their voices heard, can lead to better results. And together with the power comes the responsibility, especially for educators, to make things REALLY happen. Some days ago I read an article about a small town nearby where waste is being used to produce energy. If initiatives like these could be advertised and imitated, well… that would be something!

  3. Nina Liakos permalink

    Wow, Mary, you have said it all–a very thoughtful and carefully crafted post, well worth waiting for (and it took me a long time to get around to reading it too!).<br>My thought about the ecological lens…. what if we just use up our non-renewable energy sources without replacing them with sustainable ones (which the US is on track to do)? Then all of this beautiful web revolution will be for naught because we will be powerless–like everyone around here who has lost power (and therefore internet, along with heat, TV, radio, stove….) or just internet (because their ISP can’t get to their home to reconnect them) during our snow blitz here on the US east coast.

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