Week 7: Being critical

Before I start – I am behind. So I am biting the bullet and leapfrogging to week 7 and will then work back and fill in the gaps as much as I can……

I am a fan of Neil Selwyn and wasn’t surprised that this article resonated with me – I had it in my” to read” pile and then saw that David suggested it for Week 7.  Selwyn’s argument for the need to adopt a critical approach is cogent and all too true. Especially if you are prone to excitement about the latest gadget or tool and have a geeky streak (ok I confess!). So when Selwyn suggests that people working in the area of technology and education “appear content to turn their critical faculties down considerably when engaging in their professional work” – I can’t disagree.

As someone working in the field of educational technology , there are lots of questions I ask myself regularly. Some of them are recurring questions. I suspect any critical thinker would be familiar with these. I confess that I haven’t found satisfactory answers yet. There are lots of questions I could ask here but below is just one that troubles me regularly – I stress though that this happens to be the one that came to mind – so not necessarily the most important or pressing question I have.

How will the constant proliferation of tools and platforms that can be used for NGL impact on people in a networked world? For example, there are new tools emerging every day. Tools pack up and disappear e.g. Google Reader. Rarely, some re-emerge – which is how I felt about delicious … For people that aren’t tech savvy – how do they cope with this?  This is not just about knowing how to navigate knowledge – what I am talking about has a consequence. A tool being used by people in a networked world just disappears (with notice and forewarning)? Where does this leave the user accounts, user information, user data, user creations? They say that it will be deleted – but what does “deleted” actually mean? What about the sustainability of these tools? Who pays? There is undoubtedly a cost….Are we heading towards a world where these tools will have to be subscription based to ensure stability? Is the current model of free and premium going to work? Do premium accounts effectively pay the cost of the free accounts? What implications does this have for those with free accounts? Why do sites like WordPress allow people to set up free blogs? Whats in it for them?

In an earlier post, I raise another question: About online identity. It is possible to have an online identity before being aware of the implications…. Working in education, I think we would all ponder this question in relation to students…..

Looking at the posts of fellow learners, I see that Deb acknowledges some personal benefits in the way of an increased understanding of NGL and what sounds like a transformative learning experience. Tracey also asks some very valid questions in her post on this topic. Her comments about literacy particularly resonated with me, as it reiterates the essence one of my earlier posts.

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