cup half full

By robynjay On December 8th, 2010

This post is in response to Alex Hayes’ request for comments regarding his post over on Posterous. It’s an important debate that needs to be spread more widely so I’m repeating here in the hope it will gain some broader readership.

Alex, I’m speaking frankly and openly here as a critical friend, and hopefully to drive the debate forward . Thankfully I did have a posterous account as I would otherwise not have commented at all via the twitter and facebook login options – a tad ironic under the circumstances I think. I guess what concerns me most about your post and current state of mind is the ‘cup half empty’ lens. IMHO it’s about sensible high level policy, being informed, having the required literacy skills, and having and exercising choice.

As a company promoting a particular technology it naturally IS job to provide full and detailed information about what that technology can and cannot do, and the known inherent risks. As such, with educational clientele,  it would be pointless to offer any technology that was at odds with core educational principles (ie wellbeing of learners). It is, therefore, good to alert those customers and to facilitate debate.

People are buying POV cameras because they make the videoing that they’ve been doing since 8mm days more convenient. What has potential (as opposed to being a threat) are advancements in bandwidth that allow that content to be sent handled electronically. How it’s sent and where it’s stored and the systems that that content interacts with OF COURSE must be considered and evaluated. I don’t doubt that technologies exist that have the potential to capture more than a ‘rich media clip that shows a skill’ but to paint this as something ‘sinister’ and impending sounds a little paranoid. Risks and potential misuse exists with almost ANY technology; gaming is a good example.

Of course there are negatives around broadcasting your location and exposing your activities and habits etc. We all must be informed, learners must have choice, educators have a duty of care. Again it comes back to contemporary and ever-evolving literacy skills. All choices must be made intelligently but I don’t believe that that choice will not remain.

Educational institutions, armed with that information and skilled/professional staff then choose products and methodologies to meet the needs of their learners and contexts.

To say that geolocation is one of the most influential forces in the VET sector is just a tad over ambitious at this point in time but indeed it has POTENTIAL.

It’s easy when something is a passion or focus to think that the world should also have the same urgent interest. Unfortunately there are also students for whom traditional (safe) text-based modes of communication has failed, trainers who stand and lecture at poor unsuspecting students, kids who live in such poor circumstances that they cannot attend to learning. We all have our interests and passions and together that builds the diverse and rich professional community of which we are a part. Multimodal L&T and the use of multimedia in education are truly WONDERFUL things. A scare campaign is not what is needed.

I agree that the majority of adults are very poor at critical reflection generally however if there is ‘little open discourse about the implications for pedagogy that this technology is set to unleash’ it is probably because a) people are too busy dealing with more pressing matters, b) there is little balanced information to debate at present and c) there is no evidence that this IS or will in the near future be an actual legitimate concern for people.

‘Insidious modes of digital employee compliance’ is a separate and wider issue. We must be aware and able to opt-in and out even if OUT means leaving an organisation. But to be honest it concerns me little that the employer of Mike and John the landscape gardeners are aware that they spent 2 hours relaxing in the shade under the trees of my local park instead of getting on with their list of jobs including my new garden.

So having said all that we DO need to be informed and I’ll look forward to any further information you provide us and we DO need to focus on the implications of what we implement for learners but we must do so with a positive mindset lest we go sit in a cave and scratch on the walls with sticks.

And as for Latitude, most of us turned that off months ago as a pain in the arse.

CC FlickR image by paloooza

calling for a moratorium

By robynjay On January 15th, 2010

My last post highlighted the current Edge project exploring how the internet is changing the way we think.

One of the contributors is Sherry Turkle, psychologist from MIT who studies the culture of the internet.

In her post she refers to Erik Erikson who argued that adolescents need ‘an experience of “moratorium,” a time and space for relatively consequence-free experimentation. They need to fall in and out of love with people and ideas’.  She herself argues that while ‘the Internet provides such spaces and is thus a rich ground for working through identity’, it has become clear that ‘the idea of the moratorium space does not easily mesh with a life that generates its own electronic shadow. Over time, many find a way to ignore or deny the shadow. For teenagers, the need for a moratorium space is so compelling that they will recreate it as fiction. And indeed, leaving an electronic trace can come to seem so natural that the shadow seems to disappear. We want to forget that we have become the instruments of our own surveillance.’

Very interesting.

Certainly I agree that ‘in democracy, …  everyone has something to hide, a zone of private action and reflection, a zone that needs to be protected.’ So how is this privacy ensured?

We are still in a space where employers are lauded for finding their employees out. Recruiters dig up all they can on prospective employees. Naive employees find themselves sacked. But when are we going to draw the line and allow individuals some rights.

A good first step is to make these practices transparent. If used in recruitment, individuals must be told. If used to monitor staff, they should be made aware of this potential and have the freedom to act accordingly.

[CC FlickR image: publik16]