Sunday, March 30, 2014

Technology and the transparency of knowledge flows

During this past month I've been meeting with every teacher to review progress towards the tech integration goals they set at the start of the year.  Last week I was talking with a teacher about her goal to using technology to improve communication with parents - and how important it is to communicate with them in the spaces where they already are.  Then this weekend I read the chapter in George Siemen's Knowing Knowledge about how technology helps us with today's knowledge flows.

Let's step back a little.  Today our technology tools are simply an extension of ourselves.  I rarely go anywhere without a mobile device of some sort.  Siemens asks:  What happens when we become integrated (implanted) with technology?  One of his arguments is that the capacity to do runs ahead of our understanding of the implications.  He writes, "morality and ethical discussions are trailing behind progress of science and technology".  The interesting thing is that technology permits both individual control and power at the same time that it allows others to control us.  He writes:
The desire for centralization is strong.  Organizations want people to access their sites for content/interaction/knowledge.  People on the other hand, already have their personal online spaces  As a customer they want to experience your company through their medium ... Most individuals have a scattered identity and presence [and] want the connection values of communities to be available to [them] in [their] own online space and presence.  Today, communities are about end-user control.
This bring me back to my discussion with a colleague in the week.  How best can teachers use technology to communicate with the parents of their students?  Should we be pushing out our communication to them in the spaces they already are (eg Facebook, Instagram) to show them how their children are making progress?  Or should we still expect them to come to us via a class or school website?  Siemens argues that often we are simply duplicating the functioning of physical activities in our virtual spaces - the example he gives is of online encyclopaedias  mirroring the structures of physical ones, when in fact we need something different that allows us to "step into the knowledge stream and capture points of interest for immediate use and future reference, and a connection to inform us if the knowledge source itself has changed.  We need the ability to capture and express our knowledge in a manner tha permits others to see what we are all about.  The capacity for shared understanding today does not arise from being exposed to the same resources.  It arises from being transparent with each other.  A tool is required that allows us to manage our identity and share what we wish with those we wish."

How can we as teachers be more transparent with our parent community?  How can we share what we do better with them in the personal spaces where they are and which they have control of?  How can we use technology to give them a better insight into what their children are doing and the progress they are making?

Photo Credit: peddhapati via Compfight cc

1 comment:

  1. Hi Maggie, not sure now how I was led to your post. Possibly through a twitter recommendation. One tool that could offer value in terms of transparent engagement is at I've been looking at it to collect ideas to support a social justice campaign for banking reform and as the means to generate communities of interest to develop them, or not, indeed. I guess would have potential in your area of concern.
    Best wishes, Andrew