Here I am…who should play me? You decide…
<a href=”http://www.myheritage.com/collage” title=”MyHeritage – free family trees, genealogy and face recognition” alt=”MyHeritage – free family trees, genealogy and face recognition” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://www.myheritagefiles.com/K/storage/site1/files/75/10/52/751052_6945855dd6f38449ujcx45.JPG” width=”500″ height=”574″ border=”0″ ></a>
I have made it very clear to anyone who would listen that I do not get the blog. For me, in this learning experience, I look at the design of the blog as invasive and unnecessary. In the beginning of this class, I played well with others, but quickly began to realize that this is one technology, no matter how hard I try, I cannot willingly embrace.Podcasting, twitter, wikis, etc., much discussed in class, provides us with a tool to spread the word. It is a great way to learn French, listen to 3 guys discuss & bitch about wine or any of a million any other ways for learning and personal development. Podcasting leaves a one way trail of communication while many of the others, with commenting, etc, allows a back and forth of information sharing.The potential anonymity provided by the Internet allows people to shape their identity however the author wants. We have had this argument over and over again throughout the semester which has come down to two different identities. The blogs that we’re following can give us a glimpse in to anyone’s inner sanctum. It really is my firm belief that identity is not only shaped by the ways we picture ourselves, but the outward projection of our actions and words. So it has come to this. I’m throwing out the blog to end all blogs. This grand experiment has been an eye-opening experience. There are tons of ways that we can use these emerging technologies. For me, blogging’s not one of them.
Design has been the last topic of discussion for us CI597Cers. My focus has primarily been consumed by identity and community, but as I turn my thoughts to this concept, I feel that the three are inextricably linked. I see design as the greatest catalyst, in that design impacts community creation, which in turn impacts identity construction. In a post, Steve comments on design issues in teaching and learning, saying that curriculum should be constructed first and technology should be matched second. I wonder which one Cole and McEd considered first: curriculum or technology, when they designed the course. When I consider the design of our class, I believe that to some extent there was a method to their madness and to some extent their method evolved over time as a result of their madness. Brandon posted a thought on his blog regarding this topic when discussing Cole’s intentions regarding the expanse of disruptive technologies through change agents, implying that we, as CI597Cers, might be such gatekeepers. Only time will tell if Cole is really Paul Revere.My post entitled “Nobody Likes Me…” created some interesting dialogue on Pligg. I truly believe that this grand experiment was designed to investigate how the “design” of this course would impact the notions of community and identity both on a group and individual level. Using this class as a model, it confirms my theory regarding design as the instigator. Our personal designs for our own identities, communities, and lives and those designs we create for others in our communities and those who are members-in-waiting have an impact. To get philosophical (and possibly inspirational), we control our lives by how we design them and how we maneuver, negotiate, and interact with the designs others have created for us. Despite its importance, design can be taken for granted due to its invisible nature, yet design determines destiny. What is success? No matter how we define it, could we say that those who are “successful” have designed their lives in such a way to create success? Effort and careful attention needs to be paid to design in order to maximize the potential of success for those people whose lives we touch.
As the days of CI597C come to an end, I started to think about our community that has been created over the last several weeks. For some of us, I think that the end of class could evoke some strong feelings. For others, the impact could be quite a different experience. I’m thinking that the strength of emotions parallels engagement in a community – the more engaged, the greater the feeling of belonging, the stronger the feelings are towards the community, and when the community changes or disintegrates, the greater the emotional feelings. Our physical meeting space will exist no more, but for some of us, the virtual component of the class will provide a forum for conversation and potential sustainability for some of our community. It will be interesting to see how the CI597C community evolves over time. Many of us have discussed the need for face-to-face contact at some point. A completely virtual environment would not be ideal for a course (for some of us). I wonder what the rules will be for our virtual community. Since this component has largely existed online, without the support of the physical contact, what will the impact be on our online environment?
I’m trying to tease out one of Wenger’s many thoughts. In an attempt to decipher his cryptic code, I wondered if I could apply his thinking to a pop culture trend. Surgeon General’s Warning: I may be going too far, so proceed only at your own risk…Wenger discusses imagination and its role in creating community, not necessarily a community of practice, but rather a sense of community. If Wenger read this post, he might agree that my thoughts are a stretch just as applying his notion of imagination in creating communities of practice is, but I am going to try it anyway. Wenger says that when watching a television show, we can imagine that there are numerous other viewers who are watching. Consequently we start to feel a sense of belonging. I wonder what Wenger would say to certain reality television shows and their impact on our imaginations. In particular, I am considering American Idol (AI). When you watch AI, you see the audience members. By physically seeing some of the fellow viewers (including stars sometimes), does that impact our imagination and consequently our sense of belonging? After all, it provides a visual image of those who tune in each week to watch the show. Moreover, each week the show also declares the number of votes cast during that particular week. That said, does that declaration also impact our imagination and our sense of belonging? Beyond the hundreds that we see in the audience, we hear that millions have voted, does that increase our sense of community?
or at least he did for me this week…Wenger had my full attention and unwavering support after reading on the first few pages. On page 175 he discusses his definition of belonging. What really touched me was his comment regarding the physical limits in time and space. It’s possible that the only reason it was a home run and not a double hitter could be because right now I feel completely overwhelmed (the physiological limits he mentions) and constrained by the number of hours in the day and the amount of items that need to be completed within the next 48 hours. If I listed them for you, I might even be considered a superhero, for I truly think that no human could possibly accomplish such a feat. I feel that I am not alone in this endeavor. I often hear others (including faculty, fellow students, friends, and family members) who share this pain. The physical boundaries of time don’t bulge. Therefore, when we cram enough activities/requirements of ourselves into that space, something has to give, and we know it isn’t the walls of time. Wenger mentions that a trade off of our swelling engagement is competence. How much competence is sacrificed in order to complete the tasks that we have required of ourselves? So much to do, yet so little time… It sounds like the old quality versus quantity debate. Who will win the battle? Either victory creates a loser. Is there an ideal victor? Could we find peace in times of war between quantity and quality? What drives me crazy about this debate is the fact that the outcome of such a battle impacts the individual’s identity. The degree of competence shapes our self esteem and how others view us (two defining characteristics, I think, in identity formation). This perception of self either by ourselves or by others impacts our identity and has implications in our lives. It determines your friends, your occupation, your opportunities, your life choices, etc. Yet, knowing all of this, many of us still insist on shoving more clothes into the suitcase of time. Why do we do it?
During the Facebook session of the Penn State Teaching and Learning Symposium, the fascination with Facebook and the desire to communicate intrigued me. I began to think about how we have previously defined community, and I think that the definition needs to include communication. In a community, you are constantly communicating both verbally and nonverbally. You are confirming and rejecting ideas, thoughts, perceptions, and actions. Communication is essential in a community (I think). From there, my thoughts wandered into whether communication was innate. After all groups of animals, be it herds of cattle, flocks of geese, schools of fish, and even communities of people, all have to communicate in order to function and survive. The rise in popularity of the social networking sites (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, etc.) confirmed my thoughts about our natural desires to communicate with others and create community.
How do you feel before you have to speak publicly in front of an audience? Do you get nervous? Clammy hands? Butterflies in the stomach? Tongue-tied? Dry mouth? Other nervous symptoms? For me, that’s exactly how I feel when I podcast. For me, I much prefer to present to a live audience than through a radio or video medium. I began to notice this concept in our class. I’m not one to be shy when participating in class, but the moment that Cole pulls out the microphone and turns it on, I instantly feel my cheeks flush and my words flee. I feel completely choked. The same symptoms have happened when I have been interviewed for television. I just don’t understand why I have this phobia. In an attempt to try to understand my reactions, I have been thinking about the potential causes. When I present, the communication is two-way. Even if I am using a transmission model, I still am receiving instantaneous feedback from my audience from their body language. When I podcast, I can’t see my audience. I have no idea what they are thinking, and I feel my stuttering and nervous actions impact my ability to think clearly. Ultimately it’s incredibly frustrating, but I guess that the only way to overcome your fears is to face them. I’ll keep trying. “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again…”Do you suffer from this disease?
Wenger’s notions of identity and community intertwine when I think of my experiences as a new teacher. When I was a first-year teacher, I remember the difficulties of entering my new school’s community. Tension existed between the “veterans” and the “rookies.” On page 157, Wenger discussions the concerns a newcomer has when entering a new community and the challenges that both the established and the entering members have as membership in the community changes. Wenger says that, “They (old-timers or veterans) might thus welcome the new potentials afforded by new generations who are less hostage to the past,” but they also can frown upon the extreme energy, perceived lack of competence, and naivety that rookies bring to the job. This interaction shapes identities of both parties, but I also want to throw in another term from our course (dare I say the “d” word) design. This tension has design implications for schools and more particularly building principals who are charged with building community (of practice) with their staff members. How does (or should) a principal recognize the complex interplay of community and identity when crafting (designing) the interactions necessary to create the desired community (of practice)?