Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Webbed or WebSceptic: I guest on Brian Kelly's blog

Brian Kelly just posted a guest post from me on his UK web focus blog. I wrote a post called "Webbed or WebSceptic? You decide!", it's sort of about the information profession, and their media habits. One thing I found was that, in the end, I found I needed to draft it in blogger (i.e. here) and then copy it back into Word to send Brian to try and get that "blogly" feel. Anyway, please go along & add a comment to Brian's blog if you feel so inclined, as the previous guest blogger got quite a few comments added and I will feel mortified if I don't get any ;-) The post is at http://ukwebfocus.wordpress.com/2007/05/01/

Photo by Sheila Webber: Apple blossom in my garden, April 2007.


Cris said...

Dear Brian,

What a great idea having guest bloggers.

Dear Sheila,

What a wonderful reflection you’ve got there. And can I relate to it? I am afraid to say, I can and I do fully relate to what you’ve just described. And how did you guess that it has been one of the topics of the week in Salford? How could I not comment on it then…?

I do think that, to some extent, there is a tendency for these two worlds to grow apart: the “new” world of the ones who support technology and the “reign” of those who have a hard time coping with the implications of Web 2.0.
As everything in life, it is indeed hard to create a balance between the two realities. Isn’t it always? Harmony is always the hardest…
The way I see it, the webbed will carry on developing their ICT proficiency and the Web Sceptics will grow more and more reluctant of it, if nothing is done. And fast!

The problem is that it is always easier to generalize. And if one is not much into it and someone else comes along and reviews technology as a “bad” thing, it is the perfect cue for one to step out of this “new scene” one was about to enter and get back to the comfortable, old zone. He/she will probably discard the possibility of using it, if he/she will have that chance.

The webbed, on the other hand, is a hard cookie to convince, where technology being the worst thing is concerned, simply because he/she has regarded it in a different way and especially because he/she has been experiencing it first hand. He/she is using it!
And the truth is that nothing is that linear. Technology is not good or bad. Technology is what we want it to be (depending on how it is used). There is good and evil in everything. It is our critical eye that has to see, analyse and select the important from the irrelevant publications.
And as someone mentioned this week in one of the many discussion we have been having here in Salford since we came back from the London Emerge Event, in these days and age new literacy skills are no longer only based on the ability of reading and writing, but also on the capability of researching, selecting and colleting relevant, and reliable data.
We cannot avoid the fact that information flows and grows amazingly fast and spreads more rapidly online than it ever did onsite. And also that it does not always have the desirable quality. Nevertheless, we can certainly try to create a greater critical awareness in the people using it.
There are new educational challenges for our students out there, as there are for our staff too. They are not always easy to overcome, but they are also not impossible to accomplish. What we cannot ignore is the fact that Web 2.0 is already part of HE, whether we like it or not. And frequently the urge, and the need too, to use it is brought to us by our students, who most times are webbed themselves. There is an expectation on their part to connect their daily reality to their educational environments. - They are web users, what can we do?!
This should not be disregarded by the HE institutions or we will be loosing our student audience to the ones who will embrace the web and connect it to their learning. Aren’t we already?
The question then is how to “defeat” the scepticism and make people feel more comfortable about the Web 2.0, in spite of all its imperfections.
The answer to it might be the key to our problem.
I would say that (more) informative sessions have to be provided as well as real examples of successful experiences. Peer connections, among the experienced and the newbies, have to be established and enhanced. Don’t be afraid to share! People need to be exposed to what is being done. They need to sense the purpose in it and feel that they too are capable of using the web. Anyone can. One just have to set his mind to it!

Hazel said...

Rachel at Liminal Librarian has an interesting post on the need for book publishing as well as blogging which you can find at www.lisjobs.com/liminal/2007/04/pace-of-publishing.html

Sheila Webber said...

Cris - thank you for that very interesting & thoughtful posting - are you based in Salford then? and what is the London Emerge event? I think one interesting thing with students is that they may be just using a small part of Web 2.0 and also that also trying to force their academic life into their private Webbed life isn't always what they want to do e.g. when I have been discussing blogs, students will talk about their experience of personal blogging, but they don't want to start sharing the web address of their personal blog with everyone,; they don't necessarily want to put their personal website address up on the class website. I should add, this is obviously fine with me, it's whatever they feel happy with.

Cris said...

Hi Sheila,

Yes, I am based at Salford, where I am involved in projects related to our Virtual Doctoral School.
Tee Emerge Event (see here http://emerge.elgg.org/ )is a project started by JISC and its aim "is to support the JISC's forming of an "effective and sustainable community of practice" (CoP) around the Users and Innovation Development Model (UIDM)".
Things are starting to be very interesting, as people are more and more blogging their thoughts away and contributing with different perspectives.

Concerning the use of web 2.0 by students I totally agree with you. Most students are using just a very small part of that huge cyberworld. Most of them don’t even know what web 2.0 means. But do they have to?
As a teacher, I used blogs in the past with my students. Some of them were very skilled at using Instant Message rooms, file share application, hi5, etc but had never really joined the blogsphere. The interesting part was to give them the other side of the www – to tell them: “look, the www that you are using to play games with people from all around the world, can also be used for educational purposes;. You can learn academic related things by using it.”
We never used our personal blogs’ URLs, hi5 accounts, etc. in our activities. That was their “private side”, and mine (!), of the web. They could share it with their peers if they wanted to, but it was never something that came as an important factor. But we did have URLs in common : our class blog; our podcast; a site we built for a task, etc. They would proudly show it to their relatives, friends, etc.
They were usually amazingly shocked by the fact they were using some tools that they considered to be enjoyable, the “to-be-used-in-they-free-time-tools” , in class, which they considered a place that had to be inevitably boring.
In the end we were all having fun and learning something!

I would share my MSN ID with them, in case they wanted to ask question and get immediate answers, but that was never mandatory and they only added me to their account if they wanted. Some did, some didn’t.
Here is my blog at Emerge : http://emerge.elgg.org/cristinacost/weblog