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H807 – Innovative communication practices (Block 2)

March 28, 2011

Block 2 is about innovative communication practices.

First we will get to know Elluminate an internet-based conferencing system. Well, I already know it from H800 and I have to say my experience was not always the best. The audio system was not the best, often we heard an echo when someone spoke or even worse you heard yourself double which is does not really contribute to a good communication. One time my audio system did not work at all and I could only use the chat, but nobody really took care of it so I was constrained to listening only. However, we worked with the previous version, hence I hope they improved matters with the newer version. Next to the audio obstacles did Elluminate provide quite a lot of other features. You can record the session, you have an interactive whiteboard where everybody can work with. You can upload files, e.g. PowerPoint presentations and you can safe the chat, as well as the contents of the witheboard as evidence. Recording and safing of sessions require of course consent from the whole group.

In H800 we had mainly tutor-led conferences and some student-led Elluminate sessions. The informal character of the tutor-led session and the desire (at least my desire) to impress and not to look completely stupid ;-), including the sometimes inappropriate design of the online activity, as well as the far to big size of the group, made Elluminate not to my best experience. But let’s give it another try. A couple troubling factors are already removed – the group size is narrowed down to a maximum of five students, it it student-led and I hope the audio improved as well 🙂

The introduction raises the question whether in a given situtation the technology is in control or whether the power belongs to the individual user or the group or community.There is also the proposition that learner’s and teacher’s attitudes my be influenced using innovative new technology – talking about affordances, a topic that we just recently explored in H809.

Fogg (2003) argues we have entered an eara of ‘persuasive technology’ and that computers taking over the roles of teachers, coaches or other e.g. doctors. Does that mean that powerful systems are taking over, do they  really shape our interaction and change our attitudes and behaviours or are we in control like Cedergren (2003) assumes. Contrary to Fogg, Cedergren claims that users are in charge, they take advantage of new means of communication, like blogs, wikis or podcasts and they shape the development of computer systems through new social practices. The discussion reminded me on Wesch’s (2007) video ‘The Machine is Us/ing US’.

Yet, it is undeniable (at least for me 😉 that tools such as blogs changed the way we communicate. Well, it definitely change my communication. These tools continue to reconfigure who participates in communication, where, when, how, with whom, on whose initiativ, about what and which technology the indivual person or group/community is going to use. That is quite interesting, I just need to find more ways to apply these into my teaching.

References

Cedergren, M. (2003) ‘Open content and value creation’, First Monday, vol.8, no.8 [online] http://firstmonday.org/issues/issue8_8/cedergren/index.html (Accessed 2 December 2010).

Fogg, B.J. (2003) Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do, London, Morgan Kaufmann.

Wesch, M. (2007) The Machine is Us/ing Us [online], http://youtube.com/ watch?v=NLlGopyXT_g&f
(accessed 7 November 2008).

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