Saturday, August 6, 2011

The learning goes on and on

Last weekend I participated in RSCON3.  This amazing global online conference had over 60 presentions from educators around the world.  Obviously because of the time difference I missed some of them - but because all these presentations were recorded and archived I've been able to go back to listen to the ones I missed.  One of the ones I participated in this morning was George and Alec Couros's closing keynote for Day 2 of the conference which took place on Saturday evening in Canada (and the middle of the night here in Europe!)

One of the interesting links shared during this keynote was to a Prezi by David White of Oxford University who talks about digital visitors and digital residents.  This is not quite the same concept as Marc Prensky's digital natives and digital immigrants.  When the focus is more how how students are using technologies rather than what they are using, then how they see their online lives differs - some see it as a place to live (residents), others see it as a collection of useful tools (visitors).  It's not about academic or technical skills, it's about culture and motivation.

Digital Residents:  live part of their life online - it is a projection of their identities and a place where they carry on their relationships.  Digital residents "live" in social networking sites, blogs, image sharing services and so on and the internet is a place for socialising and expressing themselves.  All aspects of their lives are conducted using the internet:  work, study, leisure.  Residents are social and visible on the web.

Digital Visitors:  use the web as a tool - for example for researching something, booking a holiday, banking. It's not seen as a social place so they don't develop an online presence.  Visitors are individual and private on the web.

I've been thinking about this difference and reflecting on whether I'm a resident or a visitor.  When I think about Marc Prensky's definition I'm definitely an immigrant - the first time I ever saw a computer I was at university, the first time I owned one I was 30 and working at my first international school - but looking at the definitions from David White I would say I'm definitely a digital resident.  How did I move from being a visitor to a resident?  Why did I move?  Well I think that happened as a result of physically moving from Thailand to Switzerland.  Suddenly I was out of a "high tech" environment and I needed to keep in touch with friends who were still in one.  Before leaving Thailand I'd started a personal blog and started using Facebook to connect friends and family with our physical journey.  Then I started using Facebook to keep in touch with people I'd met at the Apple Asia workshops I'd been on and Twitter to connect with new educators around the world who could push my thinking forward.  Then I started a blog where I could really dig down deep into what I was thinking about teaching and learning - and how technology could transform these, and as a result of this I connected with more people and was presented with more ideas and perspectives.  Without even planning it, I found I'd built up a personal learning network, and because I was learning more from these people than anyone I've ever worked with before, these became the people I chose to connect with and learn with on a daily basis.  I became a digital resident because online, in social networking sites, was where the important people in my professional life were "living".

One of the messages from this keynote is that some of the best learning is social.  How do we help our children to learn?  One of the interesting statistics quoted was that in Canada, the USA, UK, France, Germany and Spain 81% of children under the age of 2 have a digital footprint.  One slide from the presentation is below and asks:  Can a playground be too safe?


The argument was that this can be the same for social networks - we need to introduce children to these early on, so that they learn how to use them safely and responsibly over the years.  One of the participants in the session made an interesting point:  because a child has been a passenger in a car, doesn't mean that he or she knows how to drive it.

This weekend I'm looking forward to doing more "catching up" on some of the great sessions I missed last week at RSCON3.  The learning just goes on and on ......

Photo Credit:  Webtreats 3d Glossy Blue Orbs Social Media Icons Attribution 

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