‘This’, Belbo said, would explain why Dee paid so much attention to those royal cartographers. It was not to discover the ‘true’ form of the earth, but to reconstruct, among all the mistaken maps, the one right map, the one of use to him.
‘Not bad, not bad at all,’ Diotallevi said. ’To arrive at the truth through the painstaking reconstruction of a false text.’ (Eco 1989:459)
Maps, learning and reconstructions. One must not confuse the map with the territory. The map becomes another objective reality to read interpret.
However, as a participant in education, I am required to create maps, to read maps, to interpret maps. To interpret approaches, trends and changes. It is part of who I am, what I do, how I wish to learn.
Ethnographic interpretations are part of my map reading. According to Lutz (1981), ethnography develops from two models: the operational and representational model. By operational model, Lutz refers to the “data of events observed by the researcher” (Lutz 1981:55). On the other hand, the representational model reflects the “data gathered from “native” informants about the “native” interpretation and meaning of what happened.” (Lutz 1981:55). Ethnography becomes an encounter with inner and outer events. We may even regard it as an approach which is primarily characterised by this collaborative encounter with experience – not only the researcher’s experience, but also of those who are being studied.
To arrive at meaning, the research must undergo understanding and interpreting phenomena. Heron (1990) demonstrates this by saying that:
“To explain human behaviour you have, among other things, to understand this activity, and to fully to understand it involves participating in it through overt dialogue and communication with those who are engaging in it.” (Heron 1990:23)
The ethnographic text thus becomes an artifact, a construction of reality (Hammersley and Atkinson 1983, Reason and Rowan 1990). This constructed reality, the map of reality but not the territory, cannot express a total, unshaken truth, for:
“(…) the idea that any science can be value free is, in my view, a delusion. Persons in relation to their world symbolizing their experience of the value of the presented world constitutes a fundament of the human condition.” (Heron 1990:33)
One aspect of today’s change is the added feature of digital citizenship. No light addition, for both educators and learners need to understand what is involved; they need to understand the map/s of digital citizenship.
Reading the Map of Digital Citiizenship
As I read the map of digital citizenship, the following characteristics leap out:
These are neither simple nor learnt in one hour. One’s digital footstep, one’s digital traces have become part of one’s identity. As an adult, I have learnt with time, participating in educational boards, mailing lists to online communities and networks to contributing to the digital world with my own blogs and other online participations. I have often questioned the issue of identity, particularly one’s digital identity; and as any other role, perceive it as one which is alive, in motion, developing.
In regard to learners, educators have an urgent responsibility to openly discuss the implications of online participation and the nature of digital citizenship. As Richards (2010) explains:
“The Internet features communication platforms, such as blogs, wikis, and social networks that have allowed average users to change from passive receivers of information to active producers of information (Budin, 2005). These tools and the ways that they have empowered individuals to take control of their Internet experiences have been categorized as Web 2.0 technology (Pachler & Daly, 2009; Williams & Chinn, 2009). There have been several occurrences in recent history where the use of these tools has either promoted awareness of social causes or gathered people together for civic action. As more of these instances happen throughout the world, it is increasingly important for students to understand not only how Web 2.0 tools work, but also how the sharing and distribution of information through these tools can promote civic engagement (Budin, 2005). Warschauer (2003) defined computer-mediated communication (CMC) as the “interpretive and writing skills necessary to communicate effectively via online media” (p. 117).”
Ethnographic research into classrooms and roles of teachers and learners today, needs to take these digital maps into consideration. These maps are more than traces of identity – they define one’s identity, thus being an integral part of oneself.
Maps are to be questioned throughout learning journeys.
How do you map your digital citizenship identity?
Hammersley, M.&P.Atkinson – 1983, Ethnography, Principles and Practice Tavistock Publications
Heron, J. – 1990, “Philosophical Basis for a New Paradigm” in Human Inquiry, ed. Reason, P.& J.Rowan, John Wiley &Sons
Lutz, F.W. – 1981, “Ethnography – The Holistic Approach to Understanding Schooling”, in Ethnography and Language in Educational Settings, ed. Green, J. & C. Wallet,
Reason, P. & J. Rowan, – 1990, “Issues of validity in new paradigm Research”, in Human Inquiry, ed. Reason, P. & J. Rowan, John Wiley & Sons
Richards, R., – 2010, Digital Citizenship and Web 2.0 Tools, JOLT