Blog 11 – Response

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As I move forward with the new knowledge of this course, the three areas that stand out are the ability to be producers, techno-trash and the language of social media, ie “memes”

It was interesting to see the timeline in which our roles as consumers transformed into producers. Especially noting that producing had been going on before the Internet with “remixes” and mashups” the transformation seemed logical. As our lives in the offline world are determined by the technology that becomes available, it makes sense that the same would happen with the online world. I have realized how much my use as a producer has on the community of those I associate with. I want to keep abreast of the ways our roles change and become a responsible producer that benefits me and those that I teach.

Never had I taken into consideration the techno-trash that has accumulated at my house or in the world for that matter as a serious environmental problem. I was shocked and somewhat embarrassed to be ignorant of the dumping in other countries. In the future, when my technological devise becomes obsolete, I will think twice before I need to replace it, especially if my devise is still working. Secondly, I hope to be more proactive when disposing of my technology and find an environmentally responsible way to rid of it. Lastly, I will be an advocate for the reduction of techno-trash and make family and friends aware of the implications on the world.

My favourite session was the Language of Social Media. I had no idea what a “meme” was and enjoyed the readings about the history and language of “memes”. The history of the term amazed me and proved how words, facts, definitions and concepts evolve from user to user; generation to generation or offline to online. I like the fact that I can make a “meme” that is relevant to what I would like to express and I have started to use them to encourage students when the term gets stressful.

As I continue to use media for work and play, I now have the skills, knowledge and awareness to seek out the advantages and disadvantages of using the Internet. I will continue to leave a positive digital footprint.

Blog 10 – Response

Our Online or Offline Life: Is There a Difference?

Hargittai and Boyd clearly express, empirically and theoretically respectively, that equal access does not result in digital equality. Hargittai is focused on the socioecononmic status and Boyd the racial status. Both articles conclude there are digital inequalities online similar to our offline lives.

Whenever addressing or exploring the barriers of socioeconomic status, my immediate reaction is, “how is that possible?” I grew up in a compromised socioeconmomic status and I have always surmised that I am not compromised…are there not genetics and environmental implications too? How about peer pressure or association? But when I read Hargittai’s empirical evidence and reflect seriously, it’s a reality; a compromised socioeconomic status does create digital inequalities. What Hargittai describes as the digital divide online is a real concern, not only for the inequalities but in the way it further divides and alienates the disadvantaged, whether they are the housewife with little time for access or the digital native with a low socioeconomic status. The Internet is confirming and reinforcing the barriers that already occur in the offline world. In Boyd’s article, she quotes Hillary Clinton, “The internet can serve as a great equalizer. By providing people with access to knowledge and potential markets, networks can create opportunity where none exists.” People need access and the ability to know how to use it before an opportunity can exist. Clinton should have said, “Education is the great equalizer. By providing people with access to education, it will create opportunity where none exists.”

I agree with Hargittai, the barriers of having a low socioeconomic status and minimal education have proven to “replicate” or even “amplify” the barriers to access and the productive use of the Internet.

Learners enrolled in online classes are faced with many challenges. It could be due to the digital inequalities discussed by Hargittai and Boyd. Hargittai writes about gender issues. Most would assume that the convenience of online will fit into the commitments of a woman’s family life because of the freedom of participation. However, “Hargittai and Shafer (2006) noted, among other things, that because of their larger share of household and child-rearing responsibilities, women have less leisure time for using the computer and browsing the Web suggesting that gender inequalities in Internet use remain even once we control for basic access differences.” Then, Hargittai cites, “Analyzing data from a national sample of Internet users, these authors found that those with a college degree or more were more likely to seek health information, engage in financial transactions, research and look for job information, and get news than those with lower levels of education.” This is certainly a barrier for those that may want to participate in online learning. An article by Rowntree (1995) describes the necessary literacy skills for online class success, that if lacking will cause a learner to drop out:

the ability to read messages from others and formulate appropriate responses: to read complex, sometimes lengthy passages, take notes, and create summaries of the information studied in a clear and succinct manner: communicate ideas and views and give an indication of one’s own expressed feeling in a textual medium, where the face to face contact is not available: to respond to other’s ideas and support, build on, modify, challenge, question. (p. 213)

More recently, Simmons and Simmons (2012) also reported that, “computer self-efficacy and task-technology fit are antecedents to trust in learning artifacts and impact student learning satisfaction and perceived learning outcomes” (p. 126).

 

I am sure there will be more evidence to come on the digital inequalities of the Internet, whether it is access or the type of use. Hargittai and Boyd, and might I add they are women, make very scientific and credible parallels between our online and offline lives.

References (outside of the readings)

Rowntree, D. (1995). Teaching and learning online: A correspondence education for the 21st century? British Journal of Education Technology, 26(3), 205-215.

Simmons, L. L., & Simmons, C. B. (2012). A good fit: Increasing online learner outcomes and satisfaction. Review of Business Research, 12(4), 121-128.

Blog 9 – Response

Wikipedian: Deletionist or Inclusionist?

Wikipedia; who knew there was so much animosity about one of the most famous Internet institutions? That is how Tim Davenport solidified my position on the opposite side of the debate. Let me explain. First of all, I don’t imagine the everyday regular Internet user even realizes that they can go into Wikipedia to add or edit any of the pages available. I know I didn’t until last December. While completing a weekly activity we were challenged to go onto Wikipedia and edit a page. Crazy I thought, but why not give it a try. I found the page on the definition of a dental hygienist. Under the Canadian information paragraph, I made some corrections and added some information about the National Board Exam. Lo and behold, it is still there 3 months later.

Prior to the readings, I believe I was a deletionist. I agree and relate with Ford’s description of, “The so- called ‘deletionists’ against the ‘inclusionists’ – those who thought the encyclopedia should retain a certain quality, necessitating strict editorial control, versus those who thought that Wikipedia’s goal is much broader and more global than other encyclopaedias” (p. 258). There was no question in my mind that this statement reflected my personal thoughts of how Wikipedia should be run. It was important to have knowledgeable editors verifying and deciding on the quality of information on the site. Dental hygiene is a serious, regulated, healthcare profession and its information on the Wikipedia site needed to be firmly monitored so as not to misrepresent the high standards we abide by. I was disturbed to see that the previous information about Canadian dental hygienists was incorrect and wondered why Wikipedia didn’t correct it sooner. However as I began to read more about the culture of participation Wikipedia was enforcing on its free to be editors, my position began to wane.

It started to become clear to me that the “institution” of Wikipedia had a culture of its own, elitists. This was obvious and a wee bit scary when Carr sites Daniel Pink of Wired, in a 2003 article on how he describes Wikipedia to a “power pyramid”. Pink (2003) starts to list the contributors from the bottom up and he paints us a perfect picture of a pyramid scheme with Wales standing alone at the top; the owner of the pyramid. The king of the castle. More aptly described as the mythological God Zeus at the top of Mount Olympus. What does Carr say; bury the myth? Then I read about an article praising Wales. Time magazine (2006) got it wrong when they wrote about the people transforming the world, “Today Wales is celebrated as a champion of Internet-enabled egalitarianism”. I don’t want to use information that is dictated and controlled, this is communism not egalitarianism. We are being blinded by this Gods shiny armour as to the real rules and goings on with Wikipedia. Even Wikipedia’s About page says, “The Wikipedia community has developed many policies and guidelines to improve the encyclopedia; however, it is not a formal requirement to be familiar with them before contributing”. This is not a community but rather a group of deletion elitists that are controlling your knowledge before you even contribute.

Tim Davenport solidifies my decision to side with the inclusionists when he so arrogantly has the audacity to compare Wikipedia and its growth to the history of governments or commercial institutions. He concludes snobbishly by saying, “Wikipedia is not immune to the phenomenon of bureaucratization; indeed, it is a bureaucratic infant. It is foolish to imagine that such a tendency can be halted, even if its decision-makers were consciously committed to stopping it”. I won’t sell out to the controllers of the Internet; I will strive to be included in the freedom to participate. I am on the inclusionists side!