Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Wrapping up the stupefying book week

This was an eventful week! Snowstorm, followed by several days of coughing, sneezing and all those other lovely wonderful symptoms of winter colds (or whatever it is I have).  This has made me fall a little behind on reading the contributions of fellow rhizotravelers, but hopefully I can slowly catch up on my Pocket readings.

One of the things I came across this past week was a post by Tellio where he writes about how he collects all of the sources relating to #rhizo14.  I had started thinking about this back in Week 2 when I started thinking about how many channels I can reasonably follow and participate in. My own threshold is 2.5 channels.  I decided to focus on P2PU and on Facebook, and the 0.5 channel is twitter for when I am commuting and on my mobile phone.  Any more than that becomes untenable, for me anyway.  What Tellio described in his post reminded me of the days before RSS, when I had three or four forums open in tabs simultaneously (MacOSX.com, HowardForums.com, and a PDA one if I remember correctly), and had another browser open with sites like CNET, Engadget, and so on in each tab and I was refreshing them periodically for news.  During conferences and expos I would rapid refresh to get all the latest news.   This was like a full time job, and something that I don't feel the need to do anymore thanks to RSS readers.  This did get me thinking, however, on attention span, cognitive load, and "reasonable" participation (however one defines that for themselves).  I do wonder what the limits are in this online environment.  If we were in a face to face situation, I couldn't participate in two conversations concurrently and be effective at it.  In this distributed online environment, what's the limit?

Another comment that got me thinking is Keith Harmon's post this past week where he talks a bit about the inevitability that text will be rhizomatic. I don't think that this is something new, and at the same time it's not the only mode of reading.  The BIG grain of salt that I want to start off with here is Don Tapscott, and people like him.  We've seen the over-emphasis on digital natives (net-generation, and other synonym terms) around 10 years ago without loads of thought into the nuanced view of learners and their backgrounds.  There are some students who do dip in and out of texts, like the ones on Tapscott's video (link in Keith's blog), but simply jumping into a text to get what you need, and jumping out doesn't mean that you are doing so effectively, or that you are representing the text accurately.

A good example of this is a "research" paper that I came across on digital native. This author cited my paper (which was a refutation of the monolithic digital native) as evidence of what digital natives supposedly are (competent in all technologies and clamoring for their use in the classroom - supposedly).  Instead of going to Prensky's own writings for this, they went to whatever source they came across, which happened to be mine where I was referencing Prensky in order to write more in-depth about this concept.  This is an instance where someone really didn't read what I had to write, but rather picked the part they wanted for their own predetermined narrative and went with it. Now, to be fair, I made a tiny error in that article; I wrote about Littlejohn & Margaryan's research as being Australian when it was actually British - I jotted the wrong thing down in my research notes, but this wasn't selective reading on my own part.

It's important to note that there is deep reading, and surface reading.  There is no need to start every text and go from start to finish and perform deep reading.  Different situations require different skills, and different level of engagement.  I think a more nuanced view of what is required of the course, and what the goals are will really inform both students and the instructor on how they are best going to engage with materials.  A one size fits all approach doesn't work.  Your thoughts?





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