lunes, 10 de febrero de 2014

Distraction 2.0 - Eppur si muove… rete

Published 08/08/11 01:37

We prattle about the options and possibilities of the social networks, what’s new about them, what’s the difference among them. But we do not talk as much about the human part of the networks; about people, about users, i.e., about us and about our quality as “source” for knowledge and learning.

This morning, we open our e-mail –regular POP3, and we found a message sent from Google+ -it could have been equally sent from Facebook, Linked-in, Twitter, or any other social network- stating somebody has added us to his circles; or he asks us for a contact, or being included among my friends. We log in to the aforementioned network; we give a glance to the fact that several people share some of our contacts or friends –which we could likewise add to our list or circle. Our topics are educational technology, instructional design, e-learning…. So as to check both the identity and his professional topics of interest, and his possible collaborations, we access to his wall (if it’s Facebook) or his home (if it’s Google+).  They’re all personal greetings, cheers, exclamations of joy, news about contacts… From time to time, a link comes up. Nothing about experiences, research or own publications; not even references to their own daily teaching or learning practices. What are they doing at school or work today? There is nothing about learning contents either, or about their difficulties in the classroom today, or while preparing the lesson.

Now let’s have a look at the links. Most of them are links to blogs; to our own blogs in some cases. As regards the contents to which those links address, just a few of them are excellent articles that offer very good ideas and news -and they’re hard to find. They cover a noticeable gap among forums, instant messaging and our magazine. But in most cases those links address to other blogs, or lists of blogs, and so on and so forth. If we stop to look at them, those which have original content let us know about new tools, most of them without having been tried out, without validating them, without technical details and without anything that would prove what is stated. This is a space that is well covered by viral marketing (or more correctly, recursive advertising). Sometimes, as we have seen in one case, a blog gathers posts from networks, so the circle closes in on itself; it gets feedback and starts again.

In some other cases, references apply to articles of scientific dissemination, or even to specialized sections in regular press. They just paraphrase articles from scientific journals, in the best of cases. They seldom quote technical details about population of reference, samples, reach or reliability of the study.They just give an exegesis, giving their own meaning to the subject matter or their own interpretation of the conclusions, sense and reach the authors of the research have made in their paper. Most times, not even the original articles are taken, but just the summaries published in the specialized sections of prestigious papers or magazines (The Economist, The Times, The New York Times, Nature or Science).
All this builds to a magma and a mystic where terms are coined with an additional meaning derived from the resonance of the original term (chaos, fractal, butterfly efect are some examples even George Siemens includes in his very popular works). System of ideas are concocted -“implicit theories” as Pozo (2009) would call them- sometimes with stronger stength than the consolidated theories.

Meanwhile, what’s happening to our students? Is this excesive activity compatible with an optimal teaching practice?

Eppur si muoveHowever, networks keep moving. Without paying attention to applications options or tools, and just with a few changes in one’s own practice in the networks –any of them, they could bring help to our work which will be unatteinable by any other means, no matter if we work in e-learning, distance learning, or any other.

On the one hand, all the criteria, methods and conceptualizations dealt with in the article Research and Scientific Edition in the Social Web: The Shared Science are stated.

On the other hand, but without so much transcendence, simpler changes can be adopted – very simple ones. For instance, as a general feature, there is and “Add this” button that can be used for any network. This button allows for the addition of a commented link to anything we find while surfing the net, including our own works and documents or those of our team or students. But what is for us a real novelty is the “+1s” option in the profile at Google+ combined with the “+1” button. Good use of them lets us offer our own content or our content selection to network users, or circle members, or even net surfers in general.

Besides helping the very often mentioned collaborative environment, it gives a profile of ourselves as contact, or of our work.

It’s the cloud efect (Zapata, 2011 p.16):

Therefore, the cloud (the research repository in the cloud) has long reach and path. It is not for e-prints and research results; it also includes projects, drafts, and alternative or different versions that tell us about their history. In any case, this also implies a longer term for preservation of the temporary and final research results, not only of data but also of documents containing data collection, creation and analysis. In fact, projects (originals and versions), data, publications based on them, communication flow (messages and debates in forums), “grey material”[1], notepads and other forms of communication in the cloud should be preserved intact. It is important to preserve all this in a research environment, as almost all material has been born and grown digitally.

Surely, if everything goes on as it has been going up to now, and if we center  -as we believe- our activity in this general-purpose net, we would use this way of working as much as possible, and we will ask our contacts to do likewise.

[1] “Grey material” is all scientific output not used by publishing houses, i.e. everything used  by the research community that is not “cleaned and refined” to be included in a conventional publication.