Deconstructing Maps of Digital Identity

‘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.

Maps are to be read, interpreted and understood. So where can meaning be found?

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)

In any scientific research then, it is impossible to break away from any degree of subjective interpretation. 

Digital Maps

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 read into.

Maps are to be questioned throughout learning journeys.

How do you map your digital citizenship identity?

References:

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


Classroom Roles – A Prelude

Every educational institution defines its reality through its norms, thus establishing its patters of common behaviour to the participating members. When considering the different levels of education and their reality of age differences – i.e. age differences between teachers and learners will create different social relationships, e.g. age differences between secondary and tertiary students will develop different patterns of behaviour in the relationship with the teacher and syllabus. However, there remains an impertinent question in regard to tertiary classroom cultures:

i) Is there really less “management” of learning at tertiary level than at other levels?

ii) If the managing of learning is still there, though less visible, hence more intangible, does it is more subtle?

iii) And if so, what are then the markers of that discourse?

Related to these issues, is of course the purpose of formal education and classrooms as we know them in their present state: is the justification for the object of teaching meant as a need for learning, learning here meaning the internalizing of external modes of reality in order to continue sustaining that reality?

From my experience and observations in classrooms, these are features which I have found and reflect upon.

1)    It is the institution which pre-determines the roles of teachers and learners, though one should always take into account the different personalities of each of the participating members.

2)    These roles and statues will also contribute to the determination of the teaching approaches applied by the individual teacher.

3)    The curriculum – syllabus and its testing – may condition teaching attitudes and procedures in the classroom.

Nevertheless, there are changes in process.

Changes which will not be stopped nor prevented any longer.

Classroom walls are open.

Learners have free access to whatever they want, whenever they want.

Roles are changing.

Can these changes be measured? And if not, are they not worth inquiring into?

“Questions which cannot be measured are not seen as challenging the notion of measurement, but rather as not worth studying. The impact on society of such a definition of knowledge is the undermining of independent thinking an decision making.”(Reinhartz 1990:422)
What Students Want on PhotoPeach

http://photopeach.com/public/swf/story.swf

What do your students want?

References:

Reinharz, S. – 1990 “Implementing New paradigm Research: A Model for Training and practice”, in Human Inquiry, ed. Reason, p. & J. Rowan, John Wiley &  Sons